'Ukraine is not our enemy': In Russia, hundreds arrested in anti-war protests
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Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in the early hours of February 24, thousands of Russians have taken to the streets to protest against the war. Images taken by civilians show crowds of peaceful protesters being rounded up by the police. More than 1,500 people have been arrested, according to independent outlet OVD-News.
French journalist Benoît Vitkine posted a video on Twitter showing hundreds of people protesting in St Petersburg. Surrounding by police vans, they chant “No to war!”
Saint-Petersbourg ce soir, « non à la guerre ».— Benoît Vitkine (@benvtk) February 24, 2022
C’est sans doute peu vu l’ampleur de ce qui est en train de se passer, mais pour les normes russes, c’est beaucoup. pic.twitter.com/Mt8MZ11aUk
There are many videos of arrests, many of them violent, taken the evening of February 24.
В центре Петербурга — по-прежнему несколько сотен человек. Число задержанных, по данным «ОВД-инфо» (объявлен «иноагентом»), превышает триста человек.— Журнал Холод (@holodmedia) February 24, 2022
Видео: «Холод» pic.twitter.com/FqSkkOJ1v0
Crowds of people gathered in major Russian cities, including St Petersburg and Moscow, but also in Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk, in Siberia. These Russian citizens expressed their dissent for President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
People also began showing signs of resistance on social media. The hashtag #нетвойне ("No to war" in Russian) is among the trending hashtags in Russia since February 24.
‘If someone unfurled a poster, they would be arrested in under a minute’
Photographer Vitaly Malyshev filmed the protests in Moscow for the Russian telegram channel Avtozaklive, which documents arrests at rallies around Russia. He recounted a tense atmosphere marked by widespread arrests:
There was a sense of fear. The police were running into the crowd in small groups to pull out some protesters randomly. More police vans were constantly arriving. If someone unfurled a poster during the protest, they would be arrested in under a minute.
By the afternoon, a few solitary protesters had emerged on Pushkinskaya Square and in front of the presidential administration building in Moscow, holding posters with anti-war sentiments. Some of them were immediately arrested.
‘I can’t stay comfortably at home while our neighbours have to hide in the subway to avoid bombs’
Irina Nazarova was among the protesters in St Petersburg. She witnessed several harsh arrests despite the fact that the people she saw were protesting peacefully.
There were a lot of young people there. We were singing Ukrainian songs and shouting “Ukraine is not our enemy!” and “No to war!”. The cars that passed by us were honking their horns in support.
Yesterday, we were improvising since not everyone knew there would be demonstrations. I think that more and more people will start to take to the streets. All my acquaintances and colleagues in St Petersburg are against the war and shocked by what is happening. Putin says that the Russians are fully behind him, but he hasn’t asked our opinion. I can’t stay comfortably at home while our neighbours have to hide in the subway to avoid bombs, and are dying because of the Russian soldiers.
A number of Russian celebrities, TV presenters and musicians have also denounced the war in Ukraine. More than 100 Russian journalists have signed a petition to call for an end to the military invasion.