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‘Danger to the regime?’ Russia faces ethnic minority anti-mobilisation protests

by Sebastian SEIBT
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world news Russia is seeing a wave of demonstrations in areas with high ethnic minority populations against President Vladimir Putin’s call for “partial mobilisation”. Analysts say this approach is undermining the Kremlin’s legitimacy among these groups and is likely to give Russia poorly motivated soldiers for its war against Ukraine.

In Russia’s Caucasian Dagestan region near the Georgian border, protesters managed to block traffic on September 25. More than 7,000 kilometres away, in the Buryatia region just north of the Mongolian border, a group called the Free Buryatia Foundation has been set up to help reservists avoid the “partial mobilisation” Putin announced after Ukraine’s lightning gains in the east.

The far-flung Arctic region of Yakutia in northeastern Siberia also saw fierce resistance to Putin’s plans to send 300,000 extra troops to Ukraine. Protesters gathered in the regional capital Yakutsk to perform traditional dances – while shouting “no to war!” and “no to genocide!”

Minorities paying ‘disproportionate price’The latter rallying cry reflects a growing concern that Moscow is disproportionately targeting ethnic minorities and people from Russia’s poorest regions to send more troops to Ukraine.

“There’s nothing partial about the mobilisation in Buryatia,” Alexandra Garmzhapova, president of the Free Buryatia Foundation, told Reuters. Buryatia is one of the most impoverished regions in Russia.

In Crimea – a Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014 – Moscow has pressed members of the Tatar minority into the army first. “80 percent of summonses for mobilisation in Crimea were issued to Crimean Tatars,” Russian journalist and activist Osman Pashaev pointed out via Facebook.

“It’s clear that ethnic minorities in the poorest regions are paying a disproportionate price – not only in the mobilisation effort, but in the war in Ukraine in general,” said Jeff Hawn, a specialist in Russian military issues and consultant at the New Lines Institute, a US geopolitical research centre.

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