Russian President calls for peace in Ukraine, meets soldiers’ wives


MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian presidential candidate who opposes Moscow’s military action in Ukraine met Thursday with a group of soldiers’ wives who are demanding that their husbands be removed from the front lines.

Boris Nadezhdin, a longtime Kremlin critic who serves as a local lawmaker in a town near Moscow, is collecting signatures to join the challenge race. President Vladimir Putin In March 15-17 voting,

Speaking at a meeting with wives of Russian soldiers mobilized to fight in Ukraine, Nadezhdin, 60, criticized the government’s decision to keep them in the ranks while the fighting continues.

“We want them to treat people well who are doing their duty,” he said.

The wives of some reserve soldiers called up for service at the end of 2022 have campaigned to have their husbands dismissed from duty and replaced with contract soldiers.

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Government-controlled media have dismissed their demands, and some pro-Kremlin politicians have sought to portray them as Western puppets – charges the women angrily rejected.

Putin’s order for the mobilization of 300,000 reservists in 2022 amid military setbacks in Ukraine was widely unpopular and prompted hundreds of thousands to flee abroad to avoid conscription.

Mindful of the public reaction, the army has since sought to strengthen forces in Ukraine by recruiting more volunteers. Officials claimed that about 500,000 people signed contracts with the Defense Ministry last year.

During Thursday’s meeting, Nadezhdin, a local council member in the town of Dolgoprudny just outside Moscow, reaffirmed his call for a quick end to the fighting in Ukraine.

He spoke with optimism about his presidential bid, arguing that his call for peace was gaining traction and that he had received donations from thousands of people.

He said, “As long as I continue to get public support, I will keep moving forward.” “Lakhs of people are supporting me.”

Under Russian law, independent candidates like Nadezhdin must collect at least 300,000 signatures from 40 or more regions.

Another presidential candidate who has called for peace in Ukraine, former regional lawmaker Yekaterina Duntsova, was barred from running last month when the Central Election Commission refused to accept her nomination, citing technical errors in her paperwork. Had done it.

The election commission has already approved three candidates for voting, who were nominated by parties represented in parliament and therefore did not need to collect signatures: Nikolai Kharitonov of the Communist Party, Nikolai Kharitonov of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party Leonid Slutsky and Vladislav Davankov of the New People’s Party.

All three parties have been largely supportive of the Kremlin’s policies. Kharitonov ran against Putin in 2004 and came second.

The tight control that Putin has established over Russia’s political system 24 years in power His re-election in March is almost certain. major critic who can challenge him Those on the ballot are either in jail or living abroad, and most independent media are banned.

Under the constitutional reforms he has undertaken, Putin is eligible to seek Two and six-year terms After that current tenure That term expires this year, potentially allowing him to remain in power until 2036.

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