Russian mothers seek answers from Putin

30
2
Russian mothers seek answers from Putin

Olga Tsukanova, an activist mother, said the president will meet with some mothers pulled out of his pocket, who will ask the right questions and thank him.

Her 20-year-old son is currently doing his military service and she wants to make sure he will not be sent to Ukraine.

Tsukanova travelled 900 km from the city of Samara on the Volga River in the hope of being seen at the Kremlin.

I'm not alone. Invite us, Vladimir Vladimirovich, to answer our questions! She said he was referring to the president by his patronymic.

The Kremlin is in an uncomfortable position because of the anger over the fate of the mobilised men, which could lead to real discontent, according to analysts.

While troops fight in Ukraine, the word of mothers is sacred in Russia, as authorities have unleashed an unprecedented crackdown on political dissent.

For Putin, the sight of angry relatives may bring back hard memories from the beginning of his rule more than two decades ago.

In August 2000, the Russian leader was criticised for not responding too slowly when the Kursk submarine sank, killing all 118 crew on board.

Two wars in Chechnya resulted in the rise of the mothers' movement in Russia that became a thorn for the Kremlin.

The climate is different this time, with no independent media left in the country and a ban on public criticism of Putin's offensive.

There has been little public questioning of the operation in Ukraine. In Russia some people are asking questions about the conditions in which relatives are sent to fight.

Mothers and wives' status as relatives of mobilised men serving the country gives them a form of protection rather than being considered ordinary opponents.

The sociologist Alexei Levinson, of the independent Levada Centre, said that there was a subconscious feeling that women have the right to hold power to account.

He warned that this is not a woman for the peace movement.

They want the state to fulfil its responsibility as a 'collective father' towards the mobilised. The soldiers mothers movement is uncoordinated and disparate, consisting mostly of worried relatives posting videos on social media, where some informal groups have formed.

This is how Tsukanova, who has links to the controversial opposition figure Svetlana Peunova - accused in Russia of spreading political conspiracy theories - became involved in the mothers' movement.

One woman told AFP they had sent letters to authorities.

It is not the journalists that will take our guys out of the trenches and we do not want to harm them more.