Thousands Arrested in Russian Cities for Protesting Ukraine Invasion
Thousands Arrested in Russian Cities for Protesting Ukraine Invasion

By Autumn Spredemann

On Sunday, 2,636 protesters were detained in 51 Russian cities for protesting President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The outpouring of Russian civilians denouncing their government’s war on the neighboring nation has been ongoing since Feb. 24.

During the Feb. 27 round-up, police detained 1,223 dissidents in Moscow and at least 976 in St. Petersburg, according to the independent human rights organization OVD-Info.

Since Feb. 24, over 5,949 Russian civilians have been arrested for demonstrating against the invasion of Ukraine.

Local activist Marina Litvinoich delivered a passionate speech on Facebook on the evening of Feb. 24, calling upon her fellow Russian citizens to unite in protest. “I know that right now many of you feel desperation, helplessness, shame over Vladimir Putin’s attack on the friendly nation of Ukraine … We, the Russian people, are against the war Putin has unleashed. We don’t support this war, it is being waged not on our behalf.”

Russian authorities were swift to detain Litvinovich. Police captured her outside her home shortly after making the social media post.

Moscow police reportedly have been confiscating cell phones from detainees, effectively preventing any documentation of abuse or calls for lawyers. Law enforcement officers in two departments, Severnoe Medvedkovo and Krylatskoye, threatened charges of civil disobedience and stricter punishment for demonstrators unwilling to surrender their phones.

Nationwide protests followed Litvinoich’s rally cry and a subsequent series of posts on social media. Demands for peace demonstrators circulated within hours of Putin’s armed air, land, and sea assaults on Ukraine. Last week’s invasion has been called the largest attack on one European state by another since the end of World War Two.

Russia’s bombardment of Ukraine is also considered the Eurasian country’s most aggressive action since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

In less than a week, what Putin called a “special military operation” has escalated into full-blown war over Russia’s support of the separatist republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, which is in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Russian celebrities in the arts and entertainment industry have also joined the boycott of Putin’s invasion. St. Petersburg-born rapper Oxxxymiron, who’s considered one of the most influential music artists in Russia, expressed his objections against the war in Ukraine in a video posted on his Instagram page last Thursday.

“I know that most Russians are against this war. I believe that the more people will speak about their real opinion on this war, the faster we will be able to stop this nightmare,” the 37-year-old rapper said.

Oxxxymiron gained notoriety back in 2019 for organizing the anti-government Get Jailed for a Text protest.

Director of the Russian National Theater, Elena Kovalskaya, announced her resignation on social media on Feb. 24 in protest of Putin’s attack.

“It is impossible to work for a murderer Putin and get a salary from him,” Kovalskaya said.

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