January 08, 2024

The Women with the White Scarves


The Women with the White Scarves
A woman wearing a white scarf with a sign reading, "Bring the mobilized home! Down [with] recruitment slavery!"  Put Domoy, Telegram

In December, women wearing white scarves protested solo in the Moscow cold. They left flowers for Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine at the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier and held signs in front of different government buildings demanding the return of their husbands and sons.

Put' Domoy (The Way Home) is an over-9,000-member Telegram channel that brings together family members of mobilized soldiers to advocate for their return from the front. On November 27, 2023, Put' Domoy circulated a petition to put a one-year time limit for serving at the front, institute a commission for wounded soldiers, and expand the list of diseases that can qualify someone as ineligible for the draft. In an open letter to President Vladimir Putin, organizers wrote, "We were f*cked, and you [Putin] will be f*cked. too." 

The women-led Telegram channel has often tried to hold rallies in cities across Russia but were blocked by local authorities, who cited COVID-19 restrictions. Security forces knocked on soldiers' wives' doors in Krasnoyarsk Krai and Kemerovo Oblast. However, the women aren't just considered local threats. According to Kommersant, the wives of soldiers are one of the main concerns for the Kremlin in the March elections. In response, regional officials attempted to "extinguish [Put' Domoy] with money." 

Yet, on December 6, 15 women deposited flowers on the memorial at the Kremlin wall to fallen Soviet soldiers during World War II. Then, they picketed alone in front of the Ministry of Defense, the Presidential Administration, and the Supreme Court buildings. The women wore white scarves referencing the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, a group of Argentinian women who organized rallies looking for their children who were disappeared by the country's military dictatorship in the late seventies and early eighties. 

President Putin declared 2024 "the year of the family," enraging families of drafted soldiers. In response, Maria Andreyeva, a Put' Domoy member and a mobilized soldier's wife, told SOTA,  "They have nullified us, written us off along with our husbands."

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