Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Putin cracks down on anti-war protests in Russia with ‘more than 6,500 arrests’

Demonstrations said to have been held in scores of Russian cities as Ukraine backlash grows

Jane Dalton
Wednesday 02 March 2022 16:59 GMT
Thousands turnout to march in anti-war protests across St Petersburg

At least 6,500 people have been arrested in Russia during protests against the Ukranian invasion, it’s claimed.

Demonstrations have taken place in more than 100 Russian cities since Vladimir Putin sent his forces to attack Ukraine, according to the OVD-Info project, an independent Russian human rights monitoring group.

Not content with starting the war, the Russian president is also cracking down on dissent at home.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has tried to downplay the scale of the protests, saying that while Mr Putin “hears everyone’s opinion”, he also knows “the share of those who have a different point of view and those who are sympathetic to such a necessary operation”.

Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has called on Russians to stage daily protests against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, depicting president Vladimir Putin as an “obviously insane czar”.

The prominent Kremlin critic called for demonstrations across the country and abroad to signal that not all Russians support the war and to show solidarity with anti-war protesters under arrest.

“We cannot wait even a day longer. Wherever you are. In Russia, Belarus or on the other side of the planet. Go out onto the main square of your city every weekday at 19.00 and at 14.00 at weekends and on holidays,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

Police arrest a demonstrator during a protest in St Petersburg against Russia’s war on Ukraine (AFP via Getty Images)
Crowds gathered in St Petersburg again on Tuesday (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Mr Navalny said Russia wanted to be a nation of peace but few people would call it that now.

“I call on everyone to take to the streets and fight for peace,” his account tweeted on Wednesday.

“Let’s at least not become a nation of frightened silent people. Of cowards who pretend not to notice the aggressive war against Ukraine unleashed by our obviously insane czar.”

The OVD-Info project, founded in 2011 by two Russians who witnessed mass arrests at a democracy rally, said that those arrested included teacher Irina Bogantseva, detained for a poster reading “Mothers against war”.

This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)

Vital medicines were taken away from her, she was not allowed to sleep and a court fined her, it was said.

Conductor Ivan Velikanov was suspended from performing at a festival after he delivered an anti-war speech before a performance in Nizhny Novgorod, the group also reported.

And metrologist expert Konstantin Zaruba was fired from the Research Institute of Parachute Engineering in Moscow after he took part in action supporting of Mr Navalny.

OVD-Info quoted one man arrested in Danilovsky, Moscow, as saying: “They beat me on the head, put my foot on my stomach, dragged me to the toilet, threatened to use a stun gun, but didn’t use it, they said phrases like ‘now you’re a c***’.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in