Russia cracks down on protests against Ukraine invasion
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Russia’s police forces have sought to curb protests since the start of the war but despite widespread arrests, Russians have continued organising anti-war rallies. Footage emerged this weekend showing two officers dragging a woman wearing a pink jacket away after stopping her as she headed to a demonstration. The woman can be seen trying to resist but the two policemen easily carry her away aided by the snow forcing her to slide forward as she tries to slow them down.
Additional footage shows a man holding a placard being questioned by two offices at the corner of a heavily-trafficked road.
One of the policemen can be seen reading the placard as passers-by walk right past the trio, with some people just sparing a glance to them before swiftly walking away.
The other officer questions the prospective protester before pushing him slightly towards his colleague, who immobilises his arms behind his back.
The demonstrator is forced to drop the placard as he is pushed on his knees and handcuffed.
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Russian outlet Paper reported protests have been organised for Saturday in St Petersburg despite heavy police presence.
Writing on Twitter, the website said: “Near the building of the Legislative Assembly in St. Petersburg, there are now a lot of paddy wagons and the press, protesters are starting to gather.
“The security forces approached one couple and took them to the police car to check their documents, MR7 reports.”
Attempts to clamp down on protests were also reported in Moscow, where a group assembled despite the heavy snow before being taken away by heavily armed Russian police and soldiers.
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Vladimir Putin has been trying to limit the amount of independent information available in Russia since the start of the war.
Days after the invasion, the Duma approved a new law that would see anyone sharing so-called misinformation about the conflict face up to 15 years in jail.
Independent broadcasters like Rain TV were forced to shut down and reporter Marina Ovsyannikova was taken accused of being a British spy after staging a protest by holding a sign calling for the end of the war behind a colleague during a live broadcast.
Moscow has so far continued to maintain that their actions in Ukraine are not a war but rather a “special military operation” to push for the “denazification” of the Ukrainian Government.
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But his justifications for trespassing into Ukraine have been ridiculed after analysts noted far-right groups have been increasingly lost support in recent elections.
Additionally, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is himself of Jewish descent and decried the bombing of the Babyn Yar memorial which paid tribute to thousands of Jews killed in World War 2.
After over a month of the war, Russia was forced to push back eastwards following its soldiers’ failure to make any significant advance into Ukrainian territory.
But despite failing to secure any major objectives, cities across eastern Ukraine have been left devastated by heavy shelling and millions have been forced to flee to neighbouring Poland, Romania and Moldova, or relocate across Europe.
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