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Why Russians Demand Return of Soldiers from Ukraine



As the conflict in Ukraine drags on, Russian President Vladimir Putin is confronting an unexpected wave of domestic dissent, with groups led by mothers and wives demanding the return of their loved ones from the frontlines. This rare form of dissent is proving to be a significant challenge for Putin, as it emerges from a demographic that was previously supportive of the president.

 

In September 2023, one year after Putin announced a partial mobilization of Russian troops, the first groups of Russian women demanding the return of soldiers surfaced. These women, previously supporters of Putin, have organized themselves under the banner of "Put Domoy" (The Way Home). Their movement gained momentum on social media platforms like Telegram and online chats, ultimately evolving into regular protests across Russia, including in Moscow, right in front of the Kremlin.

 

What makes this movement ground-breaking is that it is led by women from working-class and conservative backgrounds, rather than the more liberal segments of society. Many of these women were once supporters of Putin, but the decision to send their husbands and children to war has sparked a shift in their perspective. The mobilization has opened their eyes to what they perceive as the government's suffocating propaganda and has driven them to seek out voices opposing the Kremlin.

 

These women, now at the forefront of anti-war protests, are expressing profound disillusionment with Putin's leadership. The decision to send their loved ones to the frontlines has shattered their trust in the government's assurances.


Many were initially supporters of Putin until they felt deceived by the government's misleading statements. The realization that the government had lied about their husbands being sent to war has prompted them to question the broader narrative and propaganda.

 

Despite the Russian authorities' crackdown on dissent, these protests reflect a growing discontent within the population. The UK Ministry of Defence reported over 220 attacks on military enlistment offices in Russia, signaling a heightened sense of disaffection with the war among the Russian population.

 

The protests, coupled with attacks on enlistment offices, suggest that a second wave of mobilization could face increased resistance. The trajectory of these protests will undoubtedly shape the narrative of dissent within Russia and could have lasting implications for Putin's hold on power.

 

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