Russians fearful, anxious over Putin's mobilization as protests escalate

A Russian man attempted to firebomb a Russian military recruitment office amid growing concern and unrest over President Vladimir Putin's draft.

 A Russian serviceman addresses reservists at a gathering point in the course of partial mobilization of troops, aimed to support the country's military campaign in Ukraine, in the town of Volzhsky in the Volgograd region, Russia September 28, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)
A Russian serviceman addresses reservists at a gathering point in the course of partial mobilization of troops, aimed to support the country's military campaign in Ukraine, in the town of Volzhsky in the Volgograd region, Russia September 28, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)

More than half of Russians are fearful or anxious about President Vladimir Putin's announcement that Moscow was drafting hundreds of thousands of soldiers to fight in Ukraine, according to a poll released by the independent Levada Center on Thursday.

Conducted among 1,631 Russians aged 18 or over in 50 regions, the poll found that 47% of respondents said they had felt anxiety, fear or dread over the threat of conscription.

Another 13% said they had felt anger, while 23% said they had felt pride in Russia.

Since the announcement was made last month, thousands of Russian men eligible for the military draft have attempted to leave their country. Demonstrations, largely quashed by police, were held in several major cities, leading to the arrests of over 1,000 protesters.

Some Russians have taken more extreme measures to voice their opposition to Putin's mobilization. On Thursday, a man attempted to firebomb a Russian military recruitment office in Novosibirsk. He was later arrested and probed by police, according to Interfax.

 Russian law enforcement officers detain a person 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 (credit: REUTERS PHOTOGRAPHER) Russian law enforcement officers detain a person 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 (credit: REUTERS PHOTOGRAPHER)

Russian military draft facing criticism from home

The draft is also attracting criticism from the authorities among the Kremlin's own official supporters, something almost unheard of in Russia since the invasion began seven months ago. 

"It has been announced that privates can be recruited up to the age of 35. Summonses are going to 40-year-olds," RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan railed on her Telegram channel. "They're infuriating people – as if on purpose, as if out of spite. As if they'd been sent by Kyiv."

Putin said that there had been mistakes made in the process of the mobilization of Russian citizens and that these issues need to be corrected. "There are cases when doctors, highly qualified specialists in other professions with many years of experience in serving where they are really needed, are in demand – for example, in hospitals – and are enlisted as motorized riflemen," the president said during a meeting with permanent members of the Russian Security Council, according to Interfax. "Why?"

Many military reservists drafted by Russia were reported to be poorly prepared, lacking proper military gear for combat in Ukraine.

Reuters contributed to this report.