World

Protests in Russian Dagestan region against new draft

September 25, 2022
A protester is arrested in Dagestan — courtesy Telegram
A protester is arrested in Dagestan — courtesy Telegram

MOSCOW — Demonstrators in Russia's Dagestan region have clashed with police, in the latest protests to break out against Moscow's new "partial mobilization".

Footage posted to social media showed locals tussling with officers in the regional capital of Makhachkala.

And the OVD-Info group, an independent Russian human rights monitor, said it was concerned by reports of "very tough detentions" occurring in the region.

Dagestan is a mainly Muslim region of Russia once noted for intense violence.

While large protests have taken place in major cities across Russia in recent days — with more than 700 people being arrested on Saturday alone — the images of Dagestani demonstrators fighting with police marks a rare outbreak of violence against authorities.

Dozens of videos posted to social media showed protesters confronting police and other security officials in Makhachkala, with OVD-Info reporting that officers resorted to using stun guns and truncheons on the crowds.

In one video, a man detained by officials headbutts a police officer, before being beaten by other personnel.

Another video showed a security officer fleeing from a large group of demonstrators, some of whom attempted to grab and trip him as he ran.

Elsewhere, a large group of women confronted an officer guarding a recruiting center and angrily condemned the war in Ukraine, with one telling the officer that "Russia is on the territory of another country".

"Why are you taking our children," the women shouted. "Who was attacked? Russia was attacked? They didn't come to us. It was us attacking Ukraine. Russia has attacked Ukraine! Stop the war!"

OVD-Info also reported that locals in the village of Endirey had blocked a federal highway, in an attempt to stop security officials seeking to enforce the draft entering the area.

Footage obtained by the group showed police officers firing automatic rifles in the air as they sought to break up the demonstration, but locals continued to block the road.

In an attempt to ease the outbreak of anger, Dagestan's Governor Sergei Melikov admitted on Sunday that "mistakes have been made" during mobilization.

"I have already spoken about this before, but I will repeat it again: partial mobilization must take place strictly according to the criteria announced by the president," Melikov wrote on Telegram.

The region is believed to have already supplied thousands of troops for the invasion of Ukraine, with recent analysis by the BBC's Russian service suggesting that Dagestan has suffered more casualties than any other Russian province in the conflict.

The tally — conducted earlier this month — showed at least 301 soldiers from Dagestan have died, 10 times more than the capital of Moscow. The true figure is likely to be far higher.

More than 2,000 people have been arrested at mass protests since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the new draft on Wednesday.

Many young Russian men have also sought to flee the country, attempting to cross the border into neighboring Finland and Georgia.

And there have been reports from across the country that many people ineligible for the draft have been ordered to report for duty by local recruiting officers. — BBC


September 25, 2022
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