Thousands of protesters took to the streets and squares in Russian cities on Thursday to protest against President Vladimir V. Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, only to encounter a dense police presence.
Many Russians, like people around the world, were shocked to wake up to learn that Mr. Putin had ordered an all-out attack against a country often referred to as a “brother nation”. At the protests, many people said they felt depressed and devastated by news of Russia’s military action.
In Moscow, police blocked the entrance to Pushkinskaya Square in the city center, after opposition activists urged people to go there. Police officers dispersed even the smallest protest groups, ordering them to clear the area over loudspeakers.
Several hundred people, mostly young people, stood in the streets leading to the square, some chanting “No war!” and waved a Ukrainian flag. The police detained more than 600 people in the city, according to for OVD Info, a rights group that controls arrests.
“The world has turned upside down,” said Anastasia, 44, crying after seeing the square empty of people. “Everybody has to be here, it’s the only way to show that something monstrous is happening,” she said, declining to give her last name for fear of the consequences from the services. security.
While many Russians credit Mr. Putin for bringing their country out of the economic troubles and turmoil of the 1990s, others are deeply unsettled by his ability to lead. And tough sanctions that affect Russians every day, such as potential tech embargoes that could separate Russians from their beloved next-generation phones, could reduce his support at home.
Many Ukrainian politicians and public figures have called on Russians to voice their displeasure over the invasion, but years of government repression make the risks of participating in anti-Kremlin protests very high. .
In Moscow, 28-year-old Ilya, who also declined to give her last name, predicts that Russians “will only get poorer because we depend so much on international trade.”
Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city, riot police officers rounded up at least 327 people to Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s main thoroughfare.
Wearing helmets and fully equipped, they beat people and pushed protesters to the ground, according to video footage from the scene. Many have traveled to other Russian cities, including Yekaterinburg, a major city in the Ural Mountains, where protesters chanted “No war!” in front of the Lenin monument.
Understanding Russia’s Attack on Ukraine
What is the root cause of this invasion? Russia considers Ukraine to be inside its natural sphere of influence, and it became irritated by Ukraine’s proximity to the West and the prospect of it joining NATO or the European Union. Although Ukraine is not included in this category, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
Overall, more than 1,300 people have been detained across the country, OVD Info reported. Oxxxymironone of Russia’s most famous rappers, called for the creation of an anti-war movement in Russia to unite people.
He is one of many famous figures of the Russian public speak out against the Russian attack. Oxxxymiron, also known as Miron Fyodorov, said: “I know that most people in Russia are against this war and I am confident that the more people talk about their real attitude to it, the more we will be able to understand it. could stop this horror faster.”
He considered the American protests against the war in Vietnam as an inspiration. “This is a crime and a disaster,” he said, adding that he will be canceling six of his sold-out concerts in Moscow and St.Petersburg because of what happened.
“I can’t make you happy when Russian missiles are falling on Ukraine,” Oxxxymiron said in declare, published in his Instagram account. “When the inhabitants of Kyiv are forced to hide in basements and in subways, while people are dying.”
Mr. Putin has in the past squashed domestic challenges to his power. But last year, with the economy struggling and the pandemic raging, opposition groups staged some of the biggest anti-Putin protests in years.
Alina Lobzina contributed reporting
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/24/world/europe/russia-protests-putin.html Thousands of Russians protest against President Putin’s attack on Ukraine