Tasya, 19, stood with her friends on a cold morning in St. Petersburg as they joined the chants of protesters against the Russian invasion of Ukraine: “Nyet Voine!” (“No to war!”).
“It’s always safer to stand with others … to look over your shoulder, in case you have to run,” said Tasya, who asked not to use her last name for her safety. At one point, Tasya said her friends left the protest to go home or somewhere else to warm up, leaving her alone in the street.
“Then a group of officers walked past me… and suddenly one of them looked at me and then they turned and walked over to me and held me,” she said of the Feb. 24 protest.
Protests continue across Russia as young citizens, along with middle-aged and even retirees, take to the streets to speak out against a military conflict ordered by their president — a decision in which they claim they had nothing to say.
Now they find their voice. But the Russian authorities intend to quell any public dissent against the attack on Ukraine. Police put down demonstrations almost as quickly as they emerge, with some protesters being dragged away and others hounded.
According to an independent organization that monitors human rights violations in Russia, police in St. Petersburg arrested at least 350 anti-war protesters on Wednesday.
Intellectuals speak: Members of Russia’s “intelligence” — academics, writers, journalists and others — have issued public appeals denouncing the war, including a rare “open letter” to Putin signed by 1,200 students, teachers and staff at MGIMO University, the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations, affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which produces most of the Russian government and foreign service elite.
The signatories declare that they “categorically oppose the military actions of the Russian Federation in Ukraine”.
“We find it morally unacceptable to sit on the sidelines and remain silent when people die in a neighboring state. They are dying because of those who preferred weapons to peaceful diplomacy,” the letter said. .
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