Anger of the Russians is growing, while Putin has just issued an order

Institute for the Study of War (ISW) stated that Putin is worried about the upcoming elections, especially regarding protests of soldiers' wives and relatives.

Source: Blic, Daily Mail, NEWSWEEK
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Tanjug/Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
Tanjug/Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

The news comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly ordered regional officials and secret services to stamp out anti-war dissent "at all costs" amid a surge in protests by the wives and mothers of conscripted men.

Despite tightly enforced restrictions on protests in Russia, thousands of people signed petitions and took to the streets to call on conscripted men to return home from the war in Ukraine.

Officials are now, as stated, being advised to "use money to extinguish" the protests, which were supposed to take place, allegedly in Moscow, Novosibirsk and Khabarovsk, but many were banned. Also, the authorities in St. Petersburg took advantage of the anti-COVID restrictions to ban the rally, and mass gatherings are banned until the end of the year in Putin's hometown, the Daily Mail and Newsweek reported, as Blic quotes.

Relatives of the soldiers, who have been actively demanding that their men be allowed home, posted an appeal on the "Way Home" Telegram channel on November 27, and earlier this month, the group called for mass protests over reports that soldiers had been barred from leaving the army. "Multinational people of Russia! This is an appeal to everyone, or rather a plea for help. Our tragedy is unfolding in front of your eyes, which we cannot bear alone! The appeal added that the Russian public was "betrayed and exterminated by our own people".

"We were screwed, and you are also screwed. We remember how the president promised that the reservists would not be called up, that the tasks in (Ukraine) would be performed only by professional volunteers. And then our loved ones were taken to Ukraine. The promises proved to be empty. Many will never return. The mobilization turned out to be a terrible mistake," the group added.

The ISW report said leaders of the Kremlin's inner political bloc gathered local officials at a seminar in the Moscow region and tasked them with holding the election "as modestly and quietly as possible", so that there would be "no doubts" about the legitimacy of Putin's victory.

The Institute for the Study of War also pointed to Putin's comments on Nov. 15, when he said the Russian government would crack down on any foreign or domestic interference in the election. But researchers note the difficulty of obtaining reliable and accurate polling data, as many Russians fear repercussions for opposing Putin - and face punishment for criticizing the war.

Russia has steadily increased its surveillance of digital platforms since mass demonstrations were coordinated online in 2011/12. The regulations allowed Russia to block websites, store call records and share information with security services if necessary, the Daily Mail reported.

Russia has also tried to pressure Google, Apple and Facebook to store user data on Russian servers, but to no avail. Online censorship and prosecutions for posts and comments on social media have grown so much that they have broken all existing records.

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