Russian women pay the price in protests against Putin's war


Russian police officers stand guard during an unsanctioned rally, after opposition activists called for street protests against the mobilisation of reservists ordered by President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow, Russia September 21, 2022. [Reuters]

Women in Russia make up a rising proportion of those being detained in protests against President Vladimir Putin's mobilisation for the war in Ukraine, data show, as many Russian men fear being sent to the frontlines if they demonstrate.


Court documents also show more women in Moscow being charged in relation to anti-war protests in February and March in the early weeks of the conflict than in anti-Putin protests in previous years.


Among women protesters heading to central Moscow on the evening of Sept. 24 was 19-year-old Lisa. Before she joined the crowd a police officer in body armour grabbed her arm and threw her into a van. She spent a week in detention.


Three days earlier Putin announced a partial mobilisation of reservists to fight in Ukraine, prompting tens of thousands of Russian men to flee abroad, often by circuitous routes.


"When the war started, I felt like my future was not happening anymore," said Lisa, who asked to use only her first name for fear of repercussions. "But I also started feeling guilty for thinking about my own future when people in Ukraine felt much more fear every day."


Lisa showed Reuters documents and photos related to her detention.


Russian authorities say protesters are detained because unsanctioned rallies are illegal under Russian law, which also forbids any activity considered to defame the armed forces.