The cost of Vladimir Putin’s “partial mobilisation” to supplement his flagging forces in Ukraine is falling most heavily on Russia’s ethnic minority communities.
Russians in remote areas such as Buryatia and Bashkortostan say young men are dying in huge numbers after being used as “cannon fodder” in Ukraine.
And some of them are starting to fight back against the Russian leader – with alleged arson attacks on army recruitment offices and even calls for an armed uprising against the Kremlin.
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An anonymous "Committee of Bashkir Resistance" has started posting anti-Putin propaganda online, calling for violent protests against Putin’s war.
A report from Russian news outlet Verstka details the group’s aims. They insist there will be “no mobilisation in free Bashkortostan”.
Bashkiri activist Ruslan Gabbasov fled Russia in December fearing for his safety, and has since has obtained political asylum in Lithuania.
He has consistently called on the Bashkirs not to take part in what he called "the fratricidal war of two kindred Slavic peoples" and not to become mercenaries, "succumbing to the agitation of imperial propagandists."
On September 23, a post on the Bashkir Resistance’s Telegram channel encouraged locals to set fire to military registration and enlistment offices in order to "disrupt the mobilisation and give potential conscripts the time to make their escape”
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On the night of October 3, a Russian army recruitment office was set on fire in Salavat and a few days later another one was attacked in the regional centre of the Arkhangelsk district.
According to reports, a Molotov cocktail had been thrown through the office’s window, and the Committee of the Bashkir Resistance claimed that “fighters of the underground movement” had been responsible for the attack.
Bashkiri activists want the republic to secede from Russia and become an independent state with its own army,” reports Verstka. This new Bashkir army could unite with the armed forces of other former Soviet republics– potentially leading to a new a union of independent republics that’s independent from Moscow.
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Putin has massively tightened security inside Russia, with the introduction of three different security levels.
In those regions close to the border with Ukraine, such as Belgorod, Bryansk, Krasnodar and Rostov regions, as well as in annexed Crimea, a "medium level of response" has been declared. Armed police will stop and search vehicles at random to check for saboteurs – or deserters.
Central and southern regions of Russia, including Moscow, will be subjected to a what Putin has described as a state of is "heightened readiness"
Moscow's Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has insisted that "there will be no measures restricting the normal rhythm of life".
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Meanwhile in Buryatia, a remote republic in Russia’s far east, one local told the Los Angeles Daily News that resentment is growing among the peasant population.
“Our soldiers are thrown out to the front line because no one feels sorry for the Buryats,” Victoria Maladaeva said. “They are used like cannon fodder.”
“There are ads in Buryatia saying, ‘The country needs heroes,’” she said. “But don’t you need heroes from Moscow? Do you only need heroes from poor regions?”
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