A survey has found nearly half of Russians questioned said they felt fearful or anxious after hearing the Kremlin was drafting hundreds of thousands of soldiers to fight in Ukraine.
In the poll released by the independent Levada Centre on Thursday, 47 percent of respondents said they were anxious and scared following President Vladimir Putin’s announcement. Another 13 percent said they felt anger, while 23 percent expressed pride in Russia.
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The poll was conducted among 1,631 Russians aged 18 or over. It was carried out in 50 urban and rural areas across Russia from September 22 to 28, with personal interviews in the respondents’ homes.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said only 300,000 reservists with previous military experience would be called up, but there has been public irritation – even among officials and pro-Kremlin commentators – at the large number of unsuitable or ostensibly ineligible people being conscripted.
Following the announcement, thousands of draft-age men fled Russia.
More than 2,400 people have also been arrested at unsanctioned anti-war protests in more than 30 towns and cities, according to the OVD-Info organisation. Some were promptly given call-up papers – something the Kremlin said was perfectly legal.
On Thursday, Putin acknowleged “many questions” were coming up amid the mobilisation.
“All mistakes must be corrected and prevented from happening in the future,” he said.
“For example, I’m thinking of fathers of many children, or people suffering from chronic diseases, or those who are already past conscription age.”
Russian authorities have opened more military enlistment offices near Russia’s borders in an apparent effort to intercept some men of fighting age trying to flee the country.