While plenty of misinformation is circulating in Russia regarding Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, many Russian citizens are nonetheless getting an accurate view of the news and using their voices in protest. Activists are risking their safety — and their lives — to take to the streets and march against the war being waged against the country that lies just southeast of the Russian border. As Russia reiterates its commitment to harsh punishment for any sign of dissent, a record-breaking number of protestors have still shown up day after day to protest the ongoing war.
It’s shocking for Putin to see this amount of dissent from the Russian community, but according to the activist group OVD-Info, per Vanity Fair, 4,989 people in 69 Russian cities were arrested on Sunday alone — a record-setting day. Per the New York Times, breaking 3,000 arrests in a single day makes it “the highest nationwide total officially reported in any single day of protest in recent memory” — an even more impressive figure when you remember how seriously the Russian government takes any form of protest.
Moscow saw protestors chanting, “No to war,” as the government passed a strict censorship law on Saturday that makes it a crime to call what is happening in Ukraine a war. Russia is now controlling the narrative of how they want the takeover of Ukraine to look to its citizens — anything that contradicts this account is deemed “fake news” and carries penalties of up to 15 years in prison.
anti-war protests in Moscow today; people chanting "No To War!" newly passed legislation (signed into law on Saturday) makes it crime to call Russia's invasion of Ukraine a "war"– or an "invasion" for that matter. (source: https://t.co/HyElpDZptg) pic.twitter.com/GFQ3GMcgZN
— Mike Eckel (@Mike_Eckel) March 6, 2022
That’s what makes the protestor’s actions even more daring and brave; they are risking everything in the name of the truth.
“The Kremlin is wiping out all options for dissent to ensure that brave anti-war protesters do not return to the streets,” Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch said. “When President Putin goes after such a fundamental right — the cornerstone of democracy — with such totalitarian tactics, he is dispensing with any pretense that his government has any respect for rule of law, human rights, or democracy.”
The world is watching these horrors unfold in real-time, and as the United States and other Western countries impose sanctions on Russian citizens, protestors there are continuing to press forward and condemn their leader for these atrocities, making it clear that their leader’s choices do not reflect their values. Their dissension comes at a cost, but it’s a risk that they’re admirably willing to take.
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