Putin ‘Hiding’ from Mothers and Wives of Russian Soldiers—Anti-War Group

President Vladimir Putin is “hiding” from the mothers and wives of Russian soldiers sent to fight in Ukraine under his partial mobilization, an anti-war group has claimed.

The Council of Mothers and Wives of mobilized soldiers, a grassroots movement, is demanding that Putin meet with its members after the Kremlin said the Russian leader would talk to mothers of men called up to fight this week.

The organization’s leaders say no mothers from the Council of Mothers and Wives have been invited to the event, which Kremlin sources say is scheduled to take place on Sunday, November 27, Mother’s Day in the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
A mother pushes a stroller past a campaign billboard for Vladimir Putin in Smolensk, more than 200 miles from Moscow, on March 2, 2012. Activists claim the president wants to create a “patriotic movement of mothers” to prevent protests.

In response, Olga Tsukanova, an activist with the council and the mother of a conscript from Russia’s Samara region, released a video asking Putin: “Vladimir Vladimirovich, are you a man or what?”

She asked the president whether he had the courage to meet with the council “in the open” and with women who “weren’t hand-picked.”

“Do you have enough courage to look into our eyes—openly, in a meeting with women who weren’t hand-picked for you? Women who aren’t in your pocket, but real mothers who have traveled here from different cities at their own expense to meet with you?” said Tsukanova.

“We are here, in Moscow, and we are ready to meet with you. We expect an answer from you. Are you going to keep hiding from us?”

Tsukanova asked again if Putin would be willing to speak with members of the Council of Mothers and Wives.

“Or will you just stay in hiding?”

Russian newspaper Vedomosti cited three unnamed Kremlin sources in an article stating that Putin would meet with mothers of conscripted soldiers.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later confirmed that report. “Indeed, such a meeting is planned, we can confirm,” Peskov said. “Such a meeting is in preparation.”

He didn’t specify the time and place, but said the meeting would take place this week.

“The president often holds such meetings, they are not all public. In any case, the president receives first-hand information about the real state of affairs,” Peskov added.

The announcement comes amid reports that Putin is facing mounting opposition to his war in Ukraine from the families of Russian soldiers.

The Council of Mothers and Wives’ bio on its Telegram channel calls on members to “act together” to “protect the lives of our sons.”

“Nobody will help us. [It’s] all in our hands,” it reads.

Layout, an independent Russian publication, has also posted on Telegram that representatives of the council and another group, the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, have not been invited to Putin’s meeting.

According to the outlet, the Kremlin wants to create a controlled “patriotic movement of mothers” and stop a protest by the relatives of servicemen.

Layout cited an unnamed source close to the Kremlin as saying Putin believes a newly formed mothers’ association would comment on the situation but without “unnecessary aggression” and while mentioning the “successes of the military leadership.”

Newsweek has contacted Russia’s foreign ministry for comment.