Russian Citizens Risk Arrest With Mass Protest Against Putin’s War

0
413

At a Friday concert at St. Peterburg’s A2 Green Concert venue featuring the Russian band Kis-Kis, a huge crowd of attendees chanted in apparent opposition to Putin’s ongoing war against Ukraine. “Fuck the war!” they reportedly called out, in Russian. The so-called discrediting of Russian troops can lead to charges for what’s been described as an administrative offense in the country. The venue where the protest apparently took place holds thousands.

Russian singer Yuri Shevchuk, who’s with the band DDT, joined the thousands who’ve been prosecuted for that offense after he criticized Putin and the violence in Ukraine during a recent show put on in Ufa, one of Russia’s largest cities. “And now people of Ukraine are being murdered. For what? Our boys are dying over there. For what? What are the goals, my friends?” Shevchuk said. He also remarked that people were dying because of “some Napoleonic plans of another Caesar of ours,” adding: “The motherland, my friends, is not the president’s ass that has to be slobbered and kissed all the time.” At least 2,029 people have been charged with that administrative offense of discrediting the Russian military since the war in Ukraine began, as recently reported by the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

Targeting by authorities of Russians engaged in displays of opposition to the war has been swift and widespread. By the end of March — nearly two months ago — over 15,000 arrests had already been reported in association with anti-war protests inside Russia, and those arrested included individuals who were merely holding sheets of paper without any message. “One woman, who stood alone in Moscow’s Manezhnaya Square with a sheet saying “two words” (probably a reference to nyet voinye, “no to war” in Russian) was arrested within three seconds,” The Economist explains.

As previously reported here, there have also been repeated reports of soldiers in Russia’s military refusing to fight in the war in Ukraine — and reactions from superiors to these developments have also been harsh. According to Ukrainian intelligence, the Federal Security Service operatives associated with Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army “decided to fill the units of the 70th Regiment with their freelance agents and informants.” The point of these security agents’ and informants’ presence was to “identify and neutralize the initiators of the refusal for participation in the war,” Ukraine said. The 70th Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment — where rebellion has been recorded — is apparently under the purview of Russia’s 58th Combined Arms Army. And the security agents’ presence isn’t the only means of Russian leadership retaliating against refusals to fight: the “most active servicemen demanding their return to the territory of Russia, hoping for their imminent death, have been sent to the most dangerous section of the front,” according to Ukraine.