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Although she faces punishment, Russian Maria Andreeva is raising her voice – against the Kremlin and for her husband's return from the Ukraine war.

Maria Andreeva, wife of a Russian soldier:
"Just when my daughter has once again understood that she can play with her dad, that he is nearby, that he lulls her to sleep in the evening, – boom – he has to go back to the front."

Since Andreeva's husband was drafted more than a year ago, he has only returned briefly from the front twice, she said in an interview with the Reuters news agency. The 34-year-old is part of a growing movement of Russian women demanding that their relatives be allowed to return home permanently. On Andreeva's sweater is the message to the Russian defense minister: "Replace the mobilized with contract soldiers!"

Maria Andreeva, "Put Domoi" activist:
"We think they have done everything they could for the front within a year – even more than they asked for. They are civilians. They lose all their abilities and their health – both physically and mentally."

In the Telegram channel "Put Domoi" – "the way home" – with over 36,000 members, women had published a petition to this effect at the end of November. The government has hardly reacted to this at all, says Andreeva. A demonstration planned by the women had not been approved by the authorities.

Maria Andreeva, "Put Domoi" activist:
"They say we are on the side of Ukraine, we are supporters of Alexei Navalny, Mikhail Khodorkovsky supports us... We are being slandered as much as it gets. And no one in the government understands that we're just normal women, but each of them has brains, intelligence, and education."

The war against Ukraine affects large parts of the Russian population: according to official figures, Moscow's armed forces have already recruited more than 452,000 people this year.

It is not yet possible to assess whether and how the young women's movement will affect Russian society. What is clear, however, is that many people in Russia are also increasingly war-weary and did not believe that their husbands, sons and brothers would fight on the front line for more than a year.

Dealing with the movement is a delicate matter for the Kremlin – not least because the women draw attention to an injustice in the Kremlin's recruitment practices: hundreds of thousands of Russian men have had to go to the front again and again since the beginning of the war, while many others of fighting age stay at home.

Maria Andreeva is a face of the movement. Loud as she raises her voice, she risks being punished. But she has nothing to lose, she says – and demands that Vladimir Putin enact a complete demobilization.

Maria Andreeva, "Put Domoi" activist: "I'll tell you quite honestly – and I'll tell our president as well:
If he gives us back our men, we will stop our activity. I'll stop right away. I always say that as soon as my husband snores next to me every night and my cousin comes by for a cigarette in the stairwell, I'll be quiet in a heartbeat."

Russia continues to need weapons and soldiers for its war of aggression. In the coming year, Moscow wants to increase defense spending by 70 percent. Putin seems to continue to rely on strength. Elections will be held in Russia in the spring.