Putin accused of staging event with handpicked relatives of Russian soldiers, as Kremlin attempts to quell anger over Ukraine war

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Russian President Vladimir Putin in Yerevan, Armenia, November 23, 2022. Contributor/Getty Images
Putin is said to meet with families of Russian soldiers to allay their fears of war.
However, many believe the Kremlin selects relatives to avoid confrontation, The Guardian reported.
The meeting comes as families of conscripted Russian soldiers take a more critical view of the war.
Two months after the Kremlin ordered a partial mobilization of Russian reserve forces, President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet with mothers and wives of conscripted men, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.
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But some suggest the contestants are deliberately hand-picked to stage little more than a publicity stunt for the Russian president, according to The Guardian.
Many in Russia are more critical of the war, amid reports of mobilized Russian soldiers being deployed in Ukraine with little training, poor equipment and often without clear orders.
It's unclear exactly when the meeting will take place, but Russia celebrates Mother's Day on November 27.
Two major stakeholders told The Guardian that they were not invited to the planned event.
In a video blog posted online earlier this week, Olga Tsukanova, co-leader of the grassroots movement Council of Mothers and Wives, accused Putin of "hiding" from them.
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The group has asked the Kremlin to stop the mobilization and bring back men from the front lines.
"Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], are you a man or what?" Tsukanova said in the video, according to The Guardian. "Do you have the courage to look us in the eye, not with hand-picked women and mothers in your pocket, but with real [women] who have traveled here from different cities to meet you?"
"We are waiting for your answer! Or will you go into hiding again?” said Tsukanova, whose son was drafted but has resisted being sent to Ukraine, The Guardian reported.
Valentina Melnikova, a veteran advocate for the NGO Soldiers' Mothers Committee, told The Guardian that since the Russian invasion began on February 24, they have received thousands of complaints.
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"Of course they didn't invite us [to the event] and we obviously don't want to go," she told The Guardian. "We are not comfortable walking with the families of mobilized [soldiers] who were willing to let their husbands and sons die at the front."
Hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers have been sent to Ukraine, including some of the more than 300,000 reservists drafted in September.
The problems facing Russian troops in Ukraine have been compounded by their wives and mothers at home, who have begun posting grievances on social media and reaching out to regional authorities, The Washington Post reported.
A woman told the Post last week that she had to give up her television because the war in Ukraine, where her husband had been sent to fight, made her aggressive.
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"I'm just an ordinary woman and I want to live in peace. That's all I want," the woman said.
The news comes just weeks after Russian troops pulled out of Kherson, Ukraine's first major city and only regional capital to be captured from Moscow since the invasion began.
Read the original article on Business Insider
Wladimir Putin
President of Russia

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