Russia: Anti-war protestors in Moscow detained by police
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Thousands of ordinary Russians took to the streets today to protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The huge unprecedented protests erupted across at least 49 cities in the country. Police arrested around 3,500 people at the anti-war protests, including 1,700 people in Moscow and 750 in St Petersburg.
The huge arrest figures were surprisingly released by Russia’s own interior ministry, which usually underestimates the number of arrests at protests.
The protests were not only held in major cities like Moscow and St Petersburg but also as far away as the Pacific port city of Vladivostok and the Siberian city of Irkutsk.
On Saturday, the interior ministry had warned that any attempt to hold unauthorised protests would be prevented and the organisers would be held to account.
The number of arrests today brings the total number of people held in anti-war protests since the invasion began 24 to more than 10,000.
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Eva Hartog, a Moscow-based journalist, tweeted: “Today, anti-war protests are being held throughout Russia.
“Keep in mind every single protester you see risks a 15-year sentence for speaking out today.”
“Between 50K and 100K Russians have fled the country in recent days. Many of them critics of the Kremlin who would have likely joined today’s protests had they stayed.
“Something to keep in mind when talking turnout.”
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Videos uploaded to social media showed riot police in Moscow beating protesters with batons and even demanding to confiscate their phones.
One video shared on social media showed a protester in a square in the far eastern city of Khabarovsk shouting: “No to war! How are you not ashamed?”
Two policemen were then seen swooping in to arrest the protester.
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Also in Khabarovsk, police used loudspeakers to order the protesters to disperse: “Respected citizens, you are taking part in an unsanctioned public event. We demand you disperse.”
Maria Kuznetsova, a spokeswoman for the monitoring site OVD-Info, said: “We are seeing rather big protests today.
“Even in Siberian cities where we only rarely saw such numbers of arrests.”
On Friday, jailed Putin critic Alexey Navalny had called for protests Sunday across Russia.
He said: “Because of Putin, Russia now means war for many people.
“That is not right. It was Putin and not Russia that attacked Ukraine.”
Mr Navalny said Russians had to show they are not a “nation of frightened cowards”.
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