MOSCOW – Desperate to rescue their sons and husbands from the front lines in Ukraine, Russian women are putting pressure on the Kremlin in the latest sign of the spreading discontent caused by the war.
The scattered efforts by wives and mothers took off after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered 300,000 reservists called up on Sept 21, forcing the authorities to pay attention. Regional governors have met activists and promised to help and Mr Putin is planning to hold a session of his own with them as early as this week.
As the war grinds into its ninth month, Mr Putin’s efforts to shield his population from the costs of the fighting are wearing thin in spots and the Kremlin is racing to reduce the impact where it can. Authorities are promising cash and other benefits for families of those called up and pledging to make sure they’re properly equipped and taken care of.
Protests against sending mobilised relatives to the front have taken place in at least 15 regions, with the biggest near the border with Ukraine, according to data collected by Verstka, an independent media outlet that’s one of the few covering the movement.
Families’ demands typically aren’t political, focusing on ensuring their menfolk get adequate training and equipment and are taken care of at the front.
They’ve gotten some high-level attention.
Mr Putin admonished officials earlier this month to make sure that concerns are addressed, vowing to “talk to people myself to get some feedback” on the situation.
The governors of some regions near the Ukraine border have promised to help, though activists said results have been limited so far. Other officials rejected the appeals flat out, saying the soldiers at the front are “alive and well”.
“These people don’t want to stop the war, they want to improve soldiers’ conditions,” said Ekaterina Schulmann, a political scientist and a fellow at the Robert Bosc...