In a defiant gesture in a country where open criticism of war is banned, Maria Andreyeva, the wife of a Russian soldier, made an emotional plea for her husband's return to Ukraine at President Vladimir Putin's campaign headquarters on Saturday.
“There is a decree from Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin that says my husband must be there, in Ukraine. I am curious to see when he will issue a decree saying that my husband must be at home,” Andreyeva said in front of poll workers.
She got into a heated argument with a woman who said that Russian soldiers in Ukraine were defending their homeland and that she should pray for them.
Protest in front of Putin's campaign headquarters
Andreyeva shot back: “So what’s next? The Ministry of Defense has already spent all the money, now we have to take everything away from our guys, take away their last lives so that they return to us as stumps? Will they take me by surprise? What do I get in return? A legless, armless, sick man? Don’t you know what’s going on?”
indignation and despair
The exchange took place during a visit to Putin's election base by a small delegation from Way Back, an organization of soldiers' wives that advocates for the return of soldiers from the front.
It highlighted the extent of the anger and desperation of some military families as the war drags on, with no end in sight after nearly two years.
Andreyeva said she sees no urgency from authorities to address the concerns of soldiers' wives and that it is time to intensify their campaign.
The return home
She told reporters that her young daughter suffered from delayed speech development due to her father's absence. “All of my family’s problems can only be solved with one thing: the demobilization of my husband. Because she’s a completely different child when her father comes home.”
Russian lawmakers have prepared a bill that would allow the confiscation of money and property from people who “deliberately spread false information” about the country's armed forces, a senior parliament member said on Saturday.
So Maria Andreyeva and other women like her continue to fight for the safe return of their loved ones from the battlefield, despite difficult circumstances.