Putin enacts martial law in annexed regions of Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared martial law in the recently annexed regions of Ukraine and partial martial law in other areas of Russia as his war in Ukraine rages.
Martial law in the Russian context gives the military sweeping powers, including the right of the military to set up roadblocks and search vehicles, detain those who violate curfew or refuse to show documentation, commandeer civilian vehicles and other property, with proper compensation, and the suspension of some civil liberties, according to RIA Novosti. Partial martial law was instituted in other regions of Russia, mainly related to mobilizing the economy to “meet the needs” of the armed forces.
“In the referendums, the residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions firmly and unequivocally expressed their will: they want to be together with Russia,” Putin told his security council, justifying his decision, according to TASS. “Shelling continues to claim the lives of civilians. … The neo-Nazis use openly terrorist methods and sabotage against life support facilities.”
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The right to meetings, rallies, processions, pickets, and strikes is prohibited or restricted, according to RIA Novosti. Censorship will be implemented, restricting what information civilians can share. Local authorities are also “allowed to involve citizens in various works necessary to strengthen security,” RIA Novosti wrote, though what that entails isn’t entirely clear.
Residents in certain regions may be forcibly evicted, as was recently declared on the right bank of the Dnieper river in Kherson, covering 60,000 people, according to Reuters. Residents who don’t comply with a curfew or refuse to show documentation may be detained for 30 days maximum. Police in Russia, even in prewar times, already have the right to stop, ask for documentation, and search people at random.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the move is a sign of desperation from the Kremlin as the State Department decries the annexations as illegal.
“I think it’s another sign of Putin’s desperation,” Blinken said in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News. He went on to discuss the annexation of eastern Ukrainian territories and partial mobilization decree in recent weeks. “Now he’s saying that he’s declaring martial law in places that he claims has people that somehow want to be part of Russia — that speaks to his desperation,” Blinken said.
Partial martial law was instituted in other areas of Russia as well, with the extent of measures decreasing the farther away from the border with Ukraine they are located. In the regions bordering Ukraine, a level of medium readiness was introduced, giving authorities broader authority to meet the needs of the military and mobilize the economy, TASS reported.
In Crimea, a popular tourist destination for Russians, authorities assured the populace that there would be no restrictions on movement despite several attacks taking place there.
In the central and southern federal districts, which include Moscow and the majority of Russia’s population, a level of high alert was declared, which mainly entails the selective inspection of vehicles. The same decree was used during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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State outlets and authorities were sure to saturate the announcements of the new state of affairs with assurances that very little would change in daily life.
“At the same time, I must say that at present, no measures are being introduced to limit the normal rhythm of the city’s life,” said Moscow’s mayor, Sergey Sobyanin.