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Putin in secret plan to mobilise one million men

Nataliya Vasilyeva

Istanbul | Vladimir Putin has secretly approved a law that could send a further one million men to fight in Ukraine, according to information leaked from the Kremlin.

The target, revealed to a Russian newspaper, is more than triple the number given under Mr Putin’s “partial mobilisation” plan.

Riot police detain a demonstrator at an anti-mobilisation protest in Moscow. AP

The new figure is likely to exacerbate fears of conscription among Russians – a worry that has already sparked mass protests and queues to leave the country since the plan was announced on Wednesday.

It comes as some protesters detained at the anti-war rallies were threatened with deployment to the frontlines and reports that men with no military experience were being called up, despite the Kremlin’s assurances that would not happen. Stories emerged from the remote region of Buryatia, a major source of soldiers in the first wave of the invasion, that university students were being pulled straight out of class.

Its regional government confirmed reports that at least 11 schools were shut down on Thursday to be used as mobilisation points and school buses will now be used to ship conscripts.

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According to Novaya Gazeta, an exiled independent newspaper, citing an anonymous Kremlin source, the redacted Section 7 of Mr Putin’s decree states that up to one million men could be mobilised. The official said the number had been revised several times and that the Russian military insisted on it being classified.

When asked about the redacted section, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, confirmed that it contains the mobilisation target but said the one million figure “is a lie”.

He referred to a statement made by Sergei Shoigu, the Defence Minister, in which he said that Moscow was only going to call up 300,000.

About 1300 people were taken away by police at protests in more than 30 cities on Wednesday (Thursday AEST), where officers beat up and detained men and women who were campaigning against the Kremlin’s partial mobilisation order.

There were also reports that administration and conscription offices were targeted by arsonists overnight.

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At least 15 people who were detained in Moscow and one person in Voronezh were handed a summons ordering them to show up at an army draft office, the police monitoring group OVD Info said.

Kirill, a 24-year-old barista from Moscow, was among those handed a notice shortly after he was detained at midnight. He was supposed to show up at 10am the next day, but he did not, hoping that the enlistment office would not track him down as he gave the police a previous address.

“I wanted to get out of the country for a while but I just don’t have the money,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “I’m too scared now to leave the house. I feel like they could catch me anywhere.”

Anti-war protesters already faced hefty fines and potential jail time for taking part in rallies.

The Telegraph London

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