Meduza found out that only three women had sons who had been mobilized:
All-Russia People's Front regional head, Yulia Belekhova;
a housewife from Staryi Oskol, Elena Alekseevna;
a cook from Yakutsk, Marina Bakhilina.
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The other women were mothers of "volunteers" or professional soldiers.
Almost immediately it became clear that these "mothers" weren't randomly picked. Thus, 11 out of 16 participants of the talks worked as officials or in pro-government social movements, including:
Maria Kostiuk, the Deputy Head of the government of the Jewish Autonomous Region
Irina Tas-ool, Head of the Department for Family, Youth and Sport in the administration of the Kaa-Khem district of the Tuvan Republic
Olga Beltseva, Moscow official and United Russia deputy.
Two sources close to Putin's administration shared with Meduza how the meeting was organized. The idea itself appeared after there were numerous complaints from mobilized men and their relatives.
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The sources close to the Kremlin said it immediately became clear how challenging the quest to find "the necessary number of mothers" would be.
"Regular people can't approach the president. They may ask any question or have some demands that would cause distressing incidents," one of the sources said.
The situation became more challenging because "the sons of (elite) people aren't typically mobilized," another one added.
The quest of searching for "mothers of mobilized soldiers" went in two directions. A few of them were found by the dictator's administration, while others were found in the regions.
Read also: Wives and mothers of mobilized Russians demanding their return at border with Ukraine - video
According to Meduza's sources, the women were not promised "any tangible gains in payment for their trip to see Putin" as they were allegedly motivated solely by the opportunity "to see the head of the state" and "to be recognised at the regional level."
Putin met with so-called "mothers of conscripted soldiers" at his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo on the outskirts of Moscow on Nov. 25. He said that "he shared the pain" of the women who lost their sons as a result of the Russian full-scale aggression against Ukraine, but he had no regrets about the "special military operation" - the propaganda term the Kremlin uses for its full-scale invasion and war against Ukraine.