Russian oligarchs’ children speak out against Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Putin’s favourite Russian team dropped a Ukrainian footballer who called for peace

Lamiat Sabin
Saturday 26 February 2022 15:19 GMT

Related video: What sanctions mean for Vladimir Putin and Russia’s oligarchs

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Some of the youngest members of Russia’s elite have broken ranks and spoken out against Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The children of oligarchs and senior officials, as well as some Russian athletes, have condemned the military attack which has seen hundreds of Ukrainians killed, thousands seeking sanctuary in subways, and even more fleeing to neighbouring countries.

People hiding out in a subway station in Kyiv

Elizaveta Peskova, the 24-year-old daughter of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, posted a black square on her Instagram Stories – with the caption “No to war!”

Instagram Stories typically stay live for 24 hours before they are automatically taken down, but she reportedly deleted it less than an hour after posting without giving a reason why.

Ms Peskova, who is vice president of the Foundation for the Development of Russian-French Historical Initiatives, appears to be close to her father as she has posted a number of pictures of them together.

On Friday, her father defended the arrests of thousands of protesters who had demonstrated in Russia against the invasion, by saying that such rallies “are not allowed by the law”.

Sofia Abramovich, daughter of Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, shared a social media post saying Mr Putin’s actions were not supported by the majority of Russians.

The 26-year-old professional show-jumper, who has lived and studied in London, wrote: “The biggest and most successful lie of Kremlin’s propaganda is that most Russians stand with Putin.”

Earlier this week, her billionaire father – who withdrew his UK Tier 1 investor visa application in 2018 – was named in a parliamentary debate by British MPs as one of 35 oligarchs identified as aiding Mr Putin’s “kleptocracy”. He denies having links to the Kremlin.

Maria Yumasheva, the granddaughter of Russia’s first post-Soviet president Boris Yeltsin and daughter of Mr Putin’s adviser Valentin Yumashev, tweeted: “No to war.”

The 19-year-old also attended an anti-war rally in London in solidarity with Ukrainians – according to a video that had been posted to her Instagram Stories.

Ms Yumasheva uploaded an image of a Ukrainian flag with the caption “no to war” and an emoji of a broken heart.

Her 32-year-old fiancé, Fedor Smolov, a footballer who plays for Russia and Dynamo Moscow, was reportedly the first national team player to speak out against Mr Putin’s actions.

Mr Smolov posted “no to war!!!” on his Instagram account using icons of Russian and Ukrainian flags.

Andrey Rublev, a 24-year-old Russian tennis player, wrote “no war please” on a TV camera with a blue pen after winning a match in Dubai on Friday.

Zenit St Petersburg, the football club Mr Putin supports, dropped Ukrainian defender Yaroslav Rakitskyi from the team on Thursday night after he shared an anti-war message on Instagram.

He posted an image of the Ukrainian flag, with the caption: “I’m Ukrainian! Peace to Ukraine! Stop the war! I’m Ukrainian!”

Protesters in St Petersburg after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Mass anti-war rallies have been held in a number of countries, including Russia where crowds of predominately young people risked arrest to demonstrate in Moscow and St Petersburg against the Kremlin.

Some 1,700 people have been arrested in dozens of cities across Russia since Mr Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.

The largest demo in Russia was reportedly in St Petersburg – Mr Putin’s home city.

Several hundred people gathered in the city centre on Friday, chanting “No to war!” as police in full riot gear detained a number of them.

At least 437 arrests were made in 26 Russian cities – including 226 in Moscow and 130 in St Petersburg – according to the rights group OVD-Info which tracks political arrests.

Some protesters compared Mr Putin to Hitler, writing “Adolf Putin” across buildings and in subways in St Petersburg.

Moscow woke up on Friday to discover “No to War” graffiti on the walls of multiple buildings, including on the front door of Russia’s parliament.

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