Russians commemorate the anniversary of the war in Ukraine with flowers and arrests
TALLINN, Estonia — Russians in Moscow and other cities brought flowers to Ukrainian poets and held a one-man picket with anti-war slogans on Friday to mark the first anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian media and civil rights groups have reported at least a dozen arrests, part of a sweeping crackdown by the Kremlin on dissent that has grown at an unprecedented rate since the start of the war.
At least eight people were detained in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city, according to OVD-Info, a legal aid group that monitors political arrests. They all brought flowers to the city’s memorial to victims of political repression, the group said.
The online news agency Sota recorded that at least seven people were detained in St. Petersburg after they brought flowers to the monument of the famous Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko. In the footage released by the store, a police officer explains to a couple that they have violated the coronavirus restrictions.
Sota also reported on a person detained in Moscow, where they flocked to lay flowers at the monument of Lesya Ukrainka, another famous Ukrainian poet. A contingent of police watched the group, but for the most part they did not interrupt.
According to news portal Sibir.Realii, five people were detained in the Siberian city of Barnaul, including a man who was picketing a central square with a placard reading “Stop the silence”. In another Siberian city, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, a woman was detained for protesting with a banner reading: “We mourn. Forgive us, we have ruined our country,” the office reported.
Russians across the country actively protested the war in Ukraine during the first week of the invasion. The large movements quickly died down after thousands were detained, but individual protests—and arrests—continued throughout the year.
Russian authorities have been enforcing a law passed shortly after the invasion that effectively criminalizes public expression of what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Russia’s parliament rubber-stamped a bill banning the discrediting of the Russian military or the spread of false information a week after Moscow’s troops entered Ukraine.
According to an OVD-Info statement on Friday, “in 305 of the 365 days of the war, security forces detained people for their anti-war stance in various cities of Russia and the annexed Crimean peninsula.”
As of mid-December, the group counted 378 people facing criminal charges for their anti-war stances in 69 Russian regions and the Crimean peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014. The group has counted more than 5,500 administrative procedures for discrediting the authorities. Russian army.