Women, minorities in Russia’s Dagestan protest Putin’s mobilisation, fight police

Women in Makhachkala, the capital of Russia’s Dagestan province, clashed with police on September 25 while protesting Putin’s partial mobilisation order.

At least 120 people were arrested in protests in the capital of Russia’s Dagestan province on September 25 after President Vladimir Putin announced the partial military mobilisation of citizens for the war in Ukraine. Videos shared online show Dagestan residents, often women and minorities, fighting back against police, who attempted to quell crowds by force.

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Protests erupted all over Russia after Putin ordered a “partial” military mobilisation in the country on September 21. Shortly after his announcement, the Russian minister of defence said that 300,000 people would be drafted into the army.

Police have swiftly responded to repress the protests. More than 2,000 people have been confirmed arrested since September 21, according to independent Russian monitor OVD-Info.

>> Read more on The Observers: Russian military mobilisation begins despite protests around the country

In Dagestan, however, protesters have shown a rare willingness to violence, fighting back against security forces – even those armed with weapons.

Women at the forefront of protests

This time, women are leading the charge in protests, fighting back against police to protest their sons and husbands being sent off to Ukraine.

A video shared on Twitter on September 25 shows women in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala pleading with police officers. “Why are you taking our children? Who attacked who? It’s Russia that attacked Ukraine”, they say.

Женщины на протестной акции в Махачкале скандируют «Нет войне».

Подошедшему полицейскому, говорящему им, что «на Россию напали!», женщины кричат, что это Россия напала на Украину.

Видео: Черновик pic.twitter.com/6NG96lIPER — Fem Antiwar Resistance (@femagainstwar) September 25, 2022 Women at a protest in Makhachkala, Russia on September 25 plead with police officers in protest to Putin’s military mobilisation.

Other videos taken at the protest show women chanting slogans and pushing back against police officers.

«Нет войне!» «Наши дети — не удобрение!»

На митинге в Махачкале женщины скандируют антивоенные лозунги и отбивают задержанных

Видео: Утро Дагестан pic.twitter.com/p3ftj89BIZ — Медиазона (@mediazzzona) September 25, 2022 “No war!” “Our children are not fertilizer!” said the women in this video taken in Dagestan on September 25.

In this video, women formed a barricade in the street to block a police vehicle from passing. Protesters had attempted to liberate those arrested by police, even those in vehicles.

Женщины в Махачкале встали на пути полицейских автомобилей. pic.twitter.com/2MZhc2eaVA — Олена Україна🇺🇦❤️ (@ElenaUkr22) September 25, 2022

In another video, women confront a lone official, who retreats.

A group of women successfully chases away a lone policeman at an anti-mobilisation protest in Dagestan https://t.co/TBCl9khPGK pic.twitter.com/jwJLqVPIcO — Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) September 25, 2022

Protesters said that police were using tasers and pepper spray to try to control the unrest in Makhachkala.

Mobilisation targeting minorities

The Republic of Dagestan, a province of Russia bordering Georgia and the Caspian Sea, is one of the most diverse in Russia and is majority Muslim. Like those from other provinces made up of ethnic minorities, Dagestan’s residents have been particularly impacted by the war in Ukraine.

A BBC analysis found that 10 times more soldiers from Dagestan have died in the Ukraine conflict, compared to those from Moscow.

Analysts and rights groups say that ethnic minorities and impoverished people are among those most affected by the conscription, Russia’s first military call-up since World War Two.

In Endirey, a village with around 8,000 inhabitants, protesters blocked a highway on September 25, leading police to shoot in the air. The residents said that more than 100 men from their village were conscripted – a number they say is disproportionate.

Село Эндирей Хасавюртовского района, протесты против мобилизации pic.twitter.com/XlCjdlFXbF — Руслан Ахалчи (@akhalchi) September 25, 2022

Митинг в дагестанском селе Эндирей продолжается.

Видео: Спросите у Расула pic.twitter.com/PZgUyIR47d — Скат media (@mediaskat) September 25, 2022

Although Russian officials initially said the mobilisation would only impact reservists and Russians with previous military experience, many feared the numbers would actually be much higher.

The announcement led to an exodus around the country, as plane tickets sold out and lines of cars gathered at border crossing points to neighbouring countries like Finland and Georgia.