Relatives of mobilised soldiers gather in front of Russian Ministry of Defence to demand their return

Family members of Russian soldiers sent to fight in Ukraine gathered in front of the Russian Defence Ministry in Moscow on Monday to demand a meeting with Defence Minister Andrey Belousov, independent news outlet SOTAvision reported.

The protesters, predominantly wives and mothers of servicemen, pledged to camp outside the ministry overnight unless their demands were met. Some of those in the group reported being approached by police officers who demanded to see their documents, but also by pro-Putin activists, who they said had offered them water and ice cream.

A photo posted by one of the protesters on her  Telegram  channel.

A photo posted by one of the protesters on her Telegram channel.

Two of the women, who identified themselves only as Paulina and Maria, said that they had been invited into a ministry reception room by a Defence Ministry representative who introduced himself as Colonel-General Borisenko, where they said he offered them benefits, which they both said they had refused.

“In short, we’ll wait, wait, wait. We will not leave here without results,” Maria wrote.

According to the activists, sympathisers attempting to join the demonstration were prevented from doing so by police officers, but the protesters themselves had “not yet been touched.”

The demonstration fell on the Day of Russian Family and Love, an Orthodox Christian holiday that has recently been appropriated by the Kremlin for propaganda purposes. Demobilisation activists from The Way Home group urged Russians to take photos of themselves holding up signs that read “Day Without Family” and “Parade Without Family” and send them to the group.

“We are not invisible, we are there, our demands are legitimate and fair, we are in favour of peace and we will stop only when we get our way,” the organisation wrote.

On 3 June, members of The Way Home group organised a similar protest outside of the Defence Ministry to demand the return of their loved ones from the war in Ukraine. Despite police threatening to arrest the group for protesting illegally, the protestors were not detained.

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