This is how Russian Aleksi reacted when he saw the news of President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilization this week.
According to the decision, 300,000 reservists will be called up for service.
As a 26-year-old Russian man, this is a mobilization that could affect his life.
– I am in the second category of reservists. I can be called in after the first one, says Aleksi to TV 2.
Aleksi lives in the Russian city of Tomsk, and works as a shop assistant.
On Wednesday 21 September, the day the news of the mobilization came, he left work earlier than normal.
– I was full of frustration and wanted to protest against this madness, says Aleksi.
At the same time, he knew that the demonstrations would not last long. After arriving downtown, he was arrested after a short time.
Together with other protesters, he was arrested and taken to the police station.
The police confiscated his phone. He was then released. He has been told he will get his mobile phone back after the investigation is complete.
– Stop the madness
If Aleksi protests again, he will be prosecuted as a criminal, but that does not stop the young man.
– We have to speak our mind and stop the madness, says Aleksi.
According to Aleksi, Putin is using the war to stay in power. He believes that it is Putin who is responsible for those killed on both the Ukrainian and Russian sides.
Aleksi says he refuses to die in Putin’s war.
– This war is a crime against humanity, he says.
Would rather die in prison
Those who are called up for service must participate in the war. If you refuse this, you risk up to 10 years in prison, according to the bill the Duma passed on Wednesday.
This means that Aleksi risks being sentenced to 10 years in prison, because he refuses to fight in Ukraine.
– Our soldiers kill innocent people. This is terrible, says Aleksi and continues:
– I would rather die in prison than fight in Ukraine, I will do everything not to be sent to war.
Aleksi is not alone. He has many friends who think the same and tell him.
– There are many who do not want war in Ukraine!
Called a coward
At the same time, Aleksi receives criticism from Russians who support Putin’s decision.
They call Russians critical of the regime, such as Aleksi, “cowards”. According to them, one must support one’s country in a time of war.
– They say we are cowards, because “We are afraid to fight for our country and that we are afraid to die.”
– It is completely insane, he adds.
Until now, thousands of Russians have fled the country for fear of being sent to war by the authorities. Some of them are Aleksi’s friends, but he has no plans to leave Russia.
Aleksi tries to raise his voice against Putin, and he has a plea from the outside world to change the use of words about Russians.
– There is a big difference between Putin and Russia. We keep hearing that “Russians are fascists”, but we are not, says Aleksi and continues:
– We are hostages in our own country, he says finally.
On Wednesday morning, President Vladimir Putin made strong accusations and threats against the West, while at the same time announcing an increase in the number of soldiers in the war in Ukraine.
The military escalation order is Russia’s first since World War II, and the last time Putin gave a televised speech was before the invasion began in February.
The Russian forces are under severe pressure in Ukraine, and this latest move is interpreted by many as a desperate act.
Experts cast doubt on how easy it will be to collect 300,000 reservists, and the decision is likely to create political opposition, when sons, husbands and brothers are ordered into war.