Russian President Vladimir Putin has still not called his attack on Ukraine, which he described as a “military special operation”, a war. However, he is now declaring a state of war in the four annexed regions – partly on the grounds that Ukrainian martial law applied there before the annexation. This means that Russian martial law applies there, which goes hand in hand with massive restrictions on people’s personal freedoms.

For example, there is a curfew and military censorship; checkpoints are being set up and freedom of movement restricted, as explained by Russian human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov. Arrests of up to 30 days, confiscation of property, detention of foreigners and travel restrictions for Russian citizens abroad are also possible. Forced labor in armaments factories should also be possible.

Chikov and other experts also emphasize that in connection with martial law, basically all regions of Russia could be affected in one way or another. According to the Kremlin, the state of war means that the guarding of military and other state objects will be further tightened.

It is therefore particularly important to ensure public order, i.e. to increase the protection of traffic and communication routes and energy systems, for example. In addition, evacuations can be ordered to move people to safe regions.

Citizens can also be used to help with defense tasks, for example to eliminate war damage, as the lawyer Chikov explains. Last but not least, the work of political parties and the right to assembly or to strike are restricted.

Human rights activists fear that the difficult situation in the affected Ukrainian regions, which were already living under martial law, will continue to worsen because the authorities have greater powers.