Thousands of Russian citizens have reportedly begun risking their life and limb by protesting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s widely condemned invasion of Ukraine.
In a country as authoritarian as Russia, protesting is no laughing matter. While the West has also demonstrated a similar tendency toward brutalizing genuinely peaceful protesters and dissenters, Russia’s brutalization takes it to a whole other level.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is suspected of having, over the years, orchestrated the murders of dozens of dissenting journalists and critics.
Similarly, Russian “authorities” have now “warned that any ‘negative comments’ about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would be treated as ‘treason,'” according to The Telegraph.
We are in downtown Moscow where hundreds are protesting against the Ukraine invasion. Arrests. A large police presence. It takes a special kind of bravery to protest in Putin’s Russia – especially on the day he sends his country to war. pic.twitter.com/zDJEEKU03m
— James Longman (@JamesAALongman) February 24, 2022
A view of the protest in central Moscow this evening. Thousands across the country are risking serious repercussions to protest Putin’s attack on Ukraine. More than 850 people detained so far. pic.twitter.com/KHog0Acbir
— Matthew Luxmoore (@mjluxmoore) February 24, 2022
More from Moscow, chanting “no war.” Unbelievably brave. @OvdInfo, which monitors crackdowns on Russian protests, says it’s counted at least 900 arrests at demonstrations in 44 cities and towns across the country. pic.twitter.com/9Yn9mxukDr
— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) February 24, 2022
— WORLD WAR 3 – RUSSIA vs Ukraine #2022 (@WW32022) February 24, 2022
This comes as over 1,700 Russians have reportedly been detained “at anti-war protests across dozens of cities” in Russia, as reported by France 24.
“[W]ith shocking scenes of death in Ukraine, many prominent figures publicly spoke out against the war on Thursday and thousands of ordinary Russians defied draconian anti-protest legislation to take to the streets across the country,” the French outlet reported Thursday.
“Several thousand people gathered near Pushkin Square in central Moscow, while up to 1,000 people gathered in the former imperial capital Saint Petersburg. … Rallies also took place in dozens of other Russian cities.”
It’s not clear what’ll happen to the detained protesters.
“Riot police bundled demonstrators shouting ‘no to war’, or holding up posters, into packed vans as they rallied on Thursday night around Moscow’s Pushkin Square,” The Telegraph notes.
“Police have been arresting people left and right. I myself was just arrested and put in that police van back there.” @asluhn is reporting from Moscow’s Pushkin Square as protests break out against the war in Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/LybKu1YdN6
— VICE World News (@VICEWorldNews) February 24, 2022
Scenes from Moscow of Russians attempting to protest the war with Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/lLHF3ZqPzP
— Andy Hayward (@AndyJohnHayward) February 24, 2022
— FinanceBanking.x 🟨UA🇺🇦🟨 (@00000nft) February 24, 2022
⚡️Police in Moscow started arresting people at a small anti-war protest.
— Riots & Resistance (@RiotsResistance) February 20, 2022
Anti-war protesters in downtown Moscow are quickly detained by police. We call all Russia to rise against this agression and go in the streets to protest for Freedom. pic.twitter.com/C2PYVVwaOX
— Maria P (@damadanoite14) February 24, 2022
Speaking with both The Telegraph and France 24, a number of Russian citizens expressed shock and anger at their president’s recent actions:
Anastasia Nestulya, 23: “I am in shock. My relatives and loved ones live in Ukraine. What can I tell them over the phone? You hang in there?”
Svetlana Volkova, 27: “I have a feeling that the authorities have gone mad. People have been fooled by propaganda.”
Sergei, 60: “This is horrible. I’m shocked. I feel ashamed of our leader. What did they do it for? I just don’t see why.”
Unnamed Crying Female: “I feel like Putin has gone crazy. A lot of people understand what’s going on and realize how far this can go.”
One common theme heard among those willing to speak up was the assertion that the vast majority of Russians agree with them but are too scared to dissent against Putin.
Not included among the scared, however, is famous Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, who’s currently serving a 2-1/2 year sentence on allegedly trumped-up charges as Putin reportedly seeks to try him on a spate of additional trumped-up charges.
During what appears to have been a publicly broadcast court hearing Thursday, he took the opportunity to slam Putin for his invasion of Ukraine.
“The war with Ukraine has been unleashed to cover up the robbery of Russian citizens and divert their attention away from the country’s internal problems, from the degradation of its economy,” he said.
“I am against this war.”
Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny condemned Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as he stood trial in kangaroo court today. He faces 15 more years in prison. pic.twitter.com/AeI42DCsWP
— The Recount (@therecount) February 25, 2022
Navalny, a longtime vocal critic of Putin, is an example of what ultimately happens to dissidents in Russia.
“[Putin] has tried to poison Alexei Navalny, Russia’s opposition leader. He has locked him up in one of Russia’s harshest penal colonies. He has outlawed his anti-corruption foundation. He has chased his comrades out of the country and barred his allies from standing in elections,” according to The Economist.
Yet despite all he’s faced, and the prospect that his continued dissent could eventually result in his murder, Navalny continues to fight …
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