1,700 Arrested as Russian Protesters in 58 Cities Decry Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine
Thousands of Russian protesters took to the streets in cities all over Russia Thursday, Feb. 24, to stage anti-war demonstrations and decry President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
OVD-Info, a protest-monitoring group focused on protecting civil liberties, reported that police cracked down and arrested more than 1,700 people in at least 58 cities for defying the Russian prohibition against spontaneous mass demonstrations to display protest signs and chant slogans such as “No to war!”
In an expansive crackdown on activists, rights groups, and opposition figures, Russia declared OVD-Info a “foreign agent” in September 2021 after the group played a major role in documenting anti-Kremlin demonstrations.
Photos and videos on Twitter show protesters in the streets of Putin’s hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city. Riot police officers rounded up at least 327 people there, according to The New York Times. Video footage from the scene appears to show police hitting people and pushing protesters to the ground.
The New York Times reported that many people demonstrated in other Russian cities, including in Yekaterinburg, a major city in the Ural Mountains, where protesters chanted “No to war!” in front of a Lenin monument.
Other photos show protesters defying a lockdown in Moscow’s Pushkin Square, and a video appears to show police arresting a protester for holding up a “No to war in Ukraine” sign.
Video also appears to show a large group of protesters in Novosibirsk — thousands of miles east of Moscow — chanting “No to war!”
As Russia’s economy flagged amidst a pandemic surge last year, opposition groups in the country staged large, widespread anti-Kremlin protests, prompting Putin to respond as he has in the past by cracking down and seeking to swiftly quash domestic challenges to his authority.