About 1,400 anti-war protesters were detained in Russia, with some directly conscripted into the military, according to a monitoring group, after leader Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of citizens to fight in Ukraine.
Independent news outlets said some of those arrested had been served a summon to report to military enlistment offices on Thursday, the first full day of conscription.
The AFP news agency reported that protesters were chanting “No mobilisation!”
One protester, Vasily Fedorov, a student wearing a pacifist symbol on his chest told the news agency: “Everyone is scared. I am for peace and I don’t want to have to shoot. But coming out now is very dangerous, otherwise there would be many more people.”
The Vesna opposition movement called for the protests, saying: “Thousands of Russian men, our fathers, brothers and husbands, will be thrown into the meat grinder of the war. What will they be dying for? What will mothers and children be crying for?”
Russian men rushed for the exits on Thursday after Putin ordered a partial mobilisation. Traffic at border crossings with Finland and Georgia surged and prices for air tickets from Moscow rocketed.
On Wednesday, the Russian president announced the first mobilisation since World War II and backed a plan to annex Russian-held parts of Ukraine.
But as 300,000 people were set to be called up to fight in Ukraine, prices for air tickets out of Moscow soared above $5,000 for one-way tickets to the nearest foreign locations, with most air tickets sold out completely for the coming days.
Read also: Citizens fleeing Russia after Putin announce ‘Partial mobilisation’
Social media groups gave out advice on how to leave Russia, while one news site in Russian gave a list of “where to run away right now from Russia.”
Watch video of the protest;