The families of Russian men drafted under President Vladimir Putin’s partial mobilization last year have planned mass protests demanding their return home, amid reports that soldiers are being prohibited from leaving the military.
The General Staff’s situational update of the war also states that since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, Moscow has lost 314,290 personnel, 7,377 tanks, 424 helicopters, 10,104 armored personnel vehicles, 8,647 artillery systems, and 22 warships.
The soldiers’ relatives published a manifesto on the Telegram channel The Way Home on November 12 demanding that their men be allowed home, and inviting Russians nationwide to participate in rallies on November 19. Since 2014, protesters in Russia have faced punishment for holding demonstrations without the permission of the authorities.
When Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of the population in the fall of 2022, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia would be targeting 300,000 reservists and ex-military personnel with “certain military specialties and relevant experience.
The RAND Corporation, an American think tank and research institute, said in a report in June that Russian personnel fighting in Ukraine have not been allowed to leave the military since Putin’s decree. None would be permitted to leave until the “period of partial mobilization” is ended by another decree, it added.
“Currently, the only ways out—apart from death in combat—are reaching mandatory retirement age, medical discharge or imprisonment. Some soldiers have taken matters into their own hands by deserting,” the think tank said. “Indefinite deployment and inadequate rest and rotation, due to a shortage of soldiers, mean that Russian soldiers endure prolonged exposure to combat stress, which intensifies feelings of resentment and helplessness.”
State Duma Defense Committee Chairman Andrey Kartapolov also said in September that Russian men drafted for the war won’t be rotated out of Ukraine until the so-called “special military operation” is complete.
“We, the relatives and friends of the mobilized, the military personnel ourselves, as well as people who are not indifferent to the fate of Russia and our own fellow citizens, want a full life for ALL citizens of our country!” The Way Home channel said in its manifesto.
“There are many of us and there will be even more. We are not interested in rocking the boat and destabilizing the political situation. We are The Way Home. We are determined to get our men back at any cost,” it said.
The movement said it is for “complete demobilization,” and that “civilians should not take part in hostilities.” It said it also supports political stability and a decent life for every citizen of Russia, and establishes a maximum service of one year if drafted to fight in Ukraine.
The channel said it is against “treating military personnel as consumables.”
“They are, first of all, people,” the manifesto said, calling the treatment of mobilized soldiers at present as akin to “legalized slavery.”
“Both mobilized and contract soldiers must have the right to be released from military service upon expiration of the contract or one year from the date of conscription,” it said.
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