Putin condemned media “lies” at a meeting with soldiers’ mothers | Update News

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday criticized what he said was a distorted media portrayal of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine when he met with the mothers of Russian soldiers fighting there.

“Life is more complex and diverse than what is shown on TV screens or even on the Internet. There are a lot of fakes, deceit, lies,” Putin said.

The Kremlin meeting with more than a dozen women came amid continued uncertainty over whether recruiting could resume in the wake of recent setbacks on the battlefield.

Putin said he sometimes talks directly to the troops on the phone, according to the Kremlin transcript and photographs of the meeting.

“I talked to (military) who surprised me with their mood, attitude to the matter. They didn’t expect these calls from me… (calls) give me every reason to say that they are heroes,” Putin said.

Some relatives of the soldiers complained that they were not invited to the meeting and directly criticized Putin’s leadership, as well as the recent “partial mobilization”, which, according to Defense Ministry officials, called up 300,000 reservists.

Olga Tsukanova of the Council of Mothers and Wives, a movement formed by relatives of mobilized soldiers, said in a video message on the messaging app Telegram that authorities ignored requests and inquiries from her organization.

“We are here in Moscow, ready to meet with you. We are waiting for your answer,” she said, addressing Putin directly.

“We have men in the Ministry of Defense, in the military prosecutor’s office, influential guys in the presidential administration … and on the other hand, mothers. Will you start a dialogue or will you hide? According to unconfirmed reports by some Russian media outlets, some of the women who met with Putin on Friday were members of pro-Kremlin social movements, the ruling United Russia party, or local officials who support Putin’s government.

Valentina Melnikova of the Russian human rights organization Union of Committees of Soldiers’ Mothers told independent publication Verstka earlier this week that its members were also not invited to the meeting.

Since October, relatives of mobilized soldiers have organized protests in more than a dozen regions of Russia, calling on the authorities to release their relatives from front-line service and provide them with adequate food rations, housing and equipment.

According to AP, independent Russian media and activists, many of the mobilized reservists are inexperienced, ordered to purchase essentials themselves, such as first aid kits and body armor, and did not receive proper training before being sent. It is reported that some of them were killed within a few days.

Concerns remain in Russia over whether the Kremlin might resume mobilization efforts as Ukrainian forces continue their counteroffensive in the country’s south and east. Moscow suffered a number of setbacks on the battlefield, losing territories in the northeast of Kharkov and southern Kherson regions.

While Russian officials declared “partial mobilization” completed last month, critics warned that it could resume once military registration and enlistment offices are freed from processing conscripts from Russia’s annual fall draft.

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