Ukraine attack: Anti-war protests in Moscow

“More than 1,391 people have already been detained in 51 cities,” said OVD-Info on Thursday, which tracks arrests at opposition rallies.

Ukraine attack: Anti-war protests in Moscow

Moscow: Vladimir Putin facing resistance from the Russian citizens, as thousands of people have staged a massive anti-war protest in the city.

Russian police have arrested more than 1400 people who staged anti-war protests across the city.

“More than 1,391 people have already been detained in 51 cities,” said OVD-Info on Thursday, which tracks arrests at opposition rallies. Nearly 700 people were arrested in Moscow and about 340 people in the second largest city Saint Petersburg”, reported Al Jazeera.

The invasion of Ukraine is taking place during an unprecedented crackdown on the Russian opposition, with most protest leaders assassinated, jailed or forced out of the country.

Police have detained many people, protesters have held placards shouting slogans against Putin and compared him to Hitler.

Opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who was detained by the police for his anti-Putin stand,  had mobilised Russia’s largest protests against Putin, is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence in a penal colony outside Moscow.

"We are in downtown Moscow where hundreds are protesting against the Ukraine invasion. Arrests. A large police presence. It takes a special kind of bravery to protest in Putin’s Russia - especially on the day he sends his country to war", said protester James Longman.

A number of Russian activists called on social media for people to take to the streets after Putin launched the offensive on Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday.

People urging President Putin to stop its invasion of Ukraine. One petition, started by a prominent human rights advocate, Lev Ponomavyov, garnered over 150,000 signatures within several hours and 289,000 by the end of the day.

More than 250 journalists put their names on an open letter decrying the aggression. Another one was signed by some 250 scientists, while 194 municipal council members in Moscow and other cities signed a third, Al Jazeera stated. 

In Moscow, protesters were seen massing around Pushkin Square chanting “No to war!” “I am in shock. My relatives and loved ones live in Ukraine,” Anastasia Nestulya, 23, said in Moscow. “What can I tell them over the phone? You hang in there?” She said many were afraid to protest.

In Saint Petersburg, many struck a similar note. “I have a feeling that the authorities have gone mad,” said Svetlana Volkova, 27. She also said few people were willing to protest in Russia, Al Jazeera reported.

Navalny said he was against the invasion of Ukraine. “I am against this war,” Navalny was heard saying in a video published by the independent television channel Dozhd.

“I know that right now many of you feel desperation, helplessness, shame over Vladimir Putin’s attack on the friendly nation of Ukraine. But I urge you not to despair,” human rights activist Marina Litvinovich said in a video statement on Facebook, calling for mass protests.