The Head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, confirmed that an anti-war protest was held in Grozny on 21 September. Opposition media suggest that mothers were detained following the protest, and their sons forced to sign up to fight.
Kadyrov shared a video message in his Telegram channel, in which he confirmed that an anti-mobilisation rally was held in Grozny — the first protest against the ruling regime in Kadyrov’s 15 years as head of the republic.
According to Kadyrov, the rally was attended by 15-20 women, two of whom had ‘sent their only sons to war’.
While this rally was held by mothers of military-age sons in protest against a mobilisation announced in Chechnya on 15 September, Kadyrov said that those who attend protests against the partial mobilisation announced on 21 September by Russian President Putin are ‘enemies of the people’, and should be detained and sent to fight.
He accused some of the protesters of having been paid by ‘European organisations’.
‘When they were asked, “what do you want and why are you here?”, they said they had housing and social issues. I said that if they don’t have men to keep them at home and look after them… they should also be on the territory where Russia is conducting a special operation.’
The opposition Telegram channel 1ADAT was the first to report, on 20 September, that a protest against mobilisation had been planned for 10:00 the following day, but said that the area had already been fenced off.
That evening, Vayfond, a Chechen human rights organisation, posted a photograph that showed a gathering of people in central Grozny, claiming that the image was of mothers protesting.
The Chechen authorities denied that any gathering had taken place, and claimed that the photograph was of people gathered for a religious ceremony honouring Chechen fighters killed in Ukraine.
On 21 September, 1ADAT reported that a group of women had gathered in central Grozny half an hour before the protest had been scheduled to start. According to the channel, they were all detained by Ministry of Internal Affairs employees and held at the Grozny City Hall.
The channel published a message from one of the protesters, which said that ‘about 130 women were taken from the rally, and there were 3-5 of Kadyrov’s men for each’.
The protester also noted that of the women present, only a few had sons who had been sent to Ukraine. The rest were women who were afraid their sons would be called to fight.
1ADAT reported that after the rally, the sons of women who had attended the protest who had not been sent to Ukraine were detained and sent to Gudermes, a town 36 kilometres east of Grozny.
‘These swine abducted the sons of these women and forced them (by threatening to do something to their mothers) to sign documents stating that they would go to Ukraine as volunteers. Now they are at a military training ground.’