The Impact of Military Wives Protesting in Russia

The group of women formed called The Way Home consists of military wives who are publicly criticizing the Russian authorities for not bringing their husbands who were mobilized for the war in Ukraine back home. They voice their frustration and concern about the physical and mental health of their husbands and question when they will be considered to have discharged their military duty. The women have differing views on the war itself, but they all agree that the mobilized men have done their fair share of fighting and should be reunited with their families.

The authorities in Russia do not share this opinion and public criticism of anything related to the war is risky due to the laws in place that punish dissent. However, the women persist in sharing their stories with local councillor Boris Nadezhdin, who has been critical of the “special military operation” from the beginning. Nadezhdin believes that the war has damaged President Vladimir Putin’s domestic popularity and aims to get on the ballot for the presidential election.

The women campaigning for the return of their husbands have faced criticism from opponents of the war and have been portrayed by supporters of the Kremlin as Western stooges. Russian MP Andrei Kartapolov even suggested that the call for demobilization was the work of Russia’s enemies and invoked World War Two as a comparison. However, the military wives reject this comparison, highlighting the difference in circumstances and the impact on their families if their loved ones remain in Ukraine.

The wives’ campaign not only focuses on bringing back their own family members but also aims to prevent future mobilization of Russian citizens. They believe that civilians should not be used in a military conflict and hope to raise awareness among the Russian population about the potential consequences. However, the wives have expressed that they have not received much support from those around them and have even faced criticism from friends who consider their husbands foolish for participating in the war.

To raise awareness, the group of military wives has started a peaceful protest tradition where they lay flowers near the Kremlin walls at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The flowers symbolize honoring the lives of loved ones and the memory of those killed in all wars. They also aim to convey the message of “never again.” However, the level of awareness and interest from the Russian society remains uncertain.

Overall, the impact of the military wives’ protest in Russia is raising awareness about the personal toll of the war and the concerns of the families left behind. Their campaign highlights the emotional, physical, and psychological strain on the soldiers and their loved ones. It also brings attention to the dissatisfaction and skepticism towards the government’s handling of the war and its impact on President Putin’s popularity. However, given the risks associated with public criticism in Russia, the military wives must be cautious in their activism and continue to seek support and understanding from the public.