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Families Ask Putin to Return Mobilized Troops From Ukraine

A mobilized Russian soldier seen on a bus. Yegor Aleyev / TASS

The families of mobilized Russian soldiers on Thursday asked President Vladimir Putin to return their loved ones from the front in Ukraine, more than a year after the men were recruited.

“We’re against legalized slavery,” said members of Put’ Domoi (“Way Home”), a group of soldiers' wives and mothers calling for an end to mobilization, in a video address shared on the messaging app Telegram.

Some 300,000 reservists were recruited to boost Moscow’s troop numbers in Ukraine as part of Putin’s “partial” mobilization drive that he announced in September 2022.

Putin declared an end to the mobilization the following month but did not formalize it in writing, and observers and activists say the military continues to recruit Russian men for its war effort. 

Put’ Domoi’s manifesto and petition released last week slammed what it called “indefinite mobilization” and the Russian government for ignoring the soldiers and their families. 

On Thursday, the group of wives and mothers called on Putin to introduce a one-year service limit for mobilized soldiers.

“We were confident that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s promise to replace the mobilized soldiers with a contract army by the end of 2023 would be kept,” the group said.

“But we were mistaken.”

Put’ Domoi said it released the video one week ahead of Putin’s Direct Line call-in show, which allows ordinary Russians to ask him to solve their daily problems.

“Putin promised to consider every address [for Direct Line] on Dec. 14. This cannot go unnoticed,” the group said.

Last month, the mothers and wives of mobilized Russian soldiers held anti-mobilization protests in cities throughout Russia. In some locations, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, protest organizers were denied permission to hold rallies. 

Meanwhile, on Thursday, a member of Put' Domoi, identified as Maria Andreyeva, told the independent news outlet Mozhem Obyasnit that senior military officers had threatened their husbands with “difficult conditions” during their service in retaliation to the group's activities.

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