7 January 2024
by Andrei Presnyakov. An interview with Maria Andreeva of the Way Home movement.
On 6 January, women belonging to the Way Home movement, who are seeking the return from the front of relatives mobilised more than a year ago, held one-person pickets in Moscow outside the Defence Ministry and the Presidential Administration. Beforehand, the women laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Aleksandrovsky Gardens and not for the first time.
The movement of wives and relatives of mobilised troops emerged in autumn last year when it became clear that no-one was planning to restore the reservists from the trenches to their families. The wives of mobilised troops held their first public protest in Moscow on 7 November, taking advantage of an authorised rally by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. The authorities then banned them from any street protests in various cities. Spektr recently interviewed one member of the movement at length.
Active member of the Way Home movement Maria Andreeva told Spektr how they managed to stage pickets in the centre of the capital and how the wives of mobilised troops plan to achieve their objectives.
– How many people took part in your movement’s protests at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and in the one-person pickets?
– I counted 18 people at the laying of flowers. Moreover, we were joined by several women who wanted to support us. Four people staged one-person pickets: two at the Defence Ministry and two at the Presidential Administration.
This was the fourth time we had laid flowers. We had the idea of staging one-person pickets a long time ago but it took time to study the relevant legislation in detail and to draw up the topics for the placards so that they would be hard-hitting in social terms but, at the same time, we couldn’t discredit the Russian Army.
– What problems were encountered by the people staging the pickets?
– At the ministry, there were no problems. There was gratifyingly heightened attention from motorists. They would slow down a little to read what our placards said.
At the Presidential Administration, problems arose with an FSO [Federal Protection Service] operative. He was the one who called the police who soon turned up but, after studying the situation, officers confirmed that the one-person pickets were proceeding within the confines of the law.
– Are the movement’s members planning any other protests in the near future?
– We will continue to organise the laying of flowers. We will likely stage pickets. To be honest, we’d like it to be a bit warmer because it’s hard standing outside in this weather. Your hands freeze right away.
– Have the authorities made any attempts to reach agreement with the relatives of mobilised troops of late? Or, on the contrary, any threats?
-The authorities, sadly, have no made any attempts to reach agreement with us. From this we conclude that we probably need to increase our media presence. We might need to change our rhetoric. We’re thinking about how to boost our impact. There have been no threats over the past month either.
– The presidential election campaign has begun in Russia. You had representatives present when Boris Nadezhdin was put forward as a candidate. Are you considering supporting him?
– We are studying the manifestos of various candidates. We think Boris Nadezhdin is precisely the person to be able to resolve the conflict with the utmost tact so that, for example, the relatives of fallen Russians do not encounter a negative attitude towards them. The families of those who have not returned from the war must understand that they are not forgotten, that they will not be left without support. Given that war in the 21st century is impermissible.
Translated by Melanie Moore