November 28, 2023

Beware the Wives and Mothers


Beware the Wives and Mothers
Military exercises. Yevgeny Kel, Wikimedia Commons

The sentiments of Russian women whose loved ones were mobilized for Russia's War on Ukraine pose a risk factor that "foreign ill-wishers" may exploit to destabilize the situation within the Russian Federation.

This assessment was conveyed during a seminar dedicated to preparing Russia for the election campaign for the March 17, 2024, presidential elections, attended by vice-governors for domestic policy and representatives of regional election commissions.

Kommersant sources urged local governments to stay in contact with these women, address their problems, and provide assistance in resolving their concerns. A source from one of the regional administrations, cited by the Russian news outlet The Insider, confirmed that working with the wives of mobilized citizens is a top priority for governors, per the presidential administration. The directive is clear: prevent protests at any cost, employing persuasion, promises, and financial incentives. The goal is to avoid any public demonstrations.

Sources from Verstka corroborated this summary, adding that the presidential administration has recommended that regional officials use various payments to pacify the wives and mothers of those mobilized.

In the past two weeks, it has been reported that close relatives of combatants have requested permission to hold rallies advocating for the rotation of mobilized citizens and the return of those serving for an extended period. However, such rallies were not approved in either Moscow or Krasnoyarsk. In Moscow, however, on November 7, approximately 20 women participated in a demonstration carrying posters with messages like "It's time for the mobilized to come home" and "No indefinite mobilization." Notably, this was part of a larger traditional rally organized by the KPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation) commemorating the anniversary of the October Revolution.

Novosibirsk was another city where the wives and mothers of the mobilized organized. Although the authorities did not officially approve the rally, they agreed to hold a meeting at the local House of Culture. Attendance was granted to those who filled out a special form via chat, with a cautionary note: "Prepare posters with slogans about your pain, but keep in mind that the poster must be approved at the entrance."

Apart from physical gatherings, in recent months the wives and mothers of the mobilized have orchestrated massive flash mobs publicized via social networks, facing censorship from the authorities.

Mobilization was declared on September 21, 2022, with Russian authorities reporting the mobilization of 300,000 persons. Many have already lost their lives. A recent study revealed that, on average, Russian conscripts perished in Ukraine after just four and a half months of service, and every fifth conscript did not survive for more than two months. Those who endure are obligated to continue their service.

Andrey Kartapolov, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Defense, asserts that there are no provisions for the rotation of mobilized conscripts, and they are expected to return home only after the conclusion of the war.

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