More than 850 people were arrested in cities across Russia as they gathered to protest the country's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to protest monitor OVD-Info, as reported by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
Following Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement of a "military operation" in Ukraine, thousands of people gathered in major cities across Russia to protest against the invasion, WSJ added.
Citizens warned of repercussions if they join protests
This was done despite the warnings that the Russian government put out to its citizens of legal repercussions if they joined any protests.
The government was responding to calls made on social media platforms urging Russians to gather in protest of the invasion.
Russia's interior ministry added that they will take "all necessary actions" to maintain public order in the country.
Protesters chant "no to war"
Even with heavy police presence, New York Times (NYT) reported that a few hundred people were seen on the streets leading to Pushkinskaya Square in Moscow chanting "no to war" and holding up Ukraine's flag.
We are in downtown Moscow where hundreds are protesting against the Ukraine invasion. Arrests. A large police presence. It takes a special kind of bravery to protest in Putin’s Russia - especially on the day he sends his country to war. pic.twitter.com/zDJEEKU03m— James Longman (@JamesAALongman) February 24, 2022
Huge anti-war protest happening in Moscow, the capital of Russia:— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) February 24, 2022
Russian citizens rejecting the Ukraine invasion pic.twitter.com/Cx6GADwlPy
Law enforcers also dispersed groups of protesters and ordered them to move away from the area using loudspeakers.
Reuters added that a Russian opposition activist, Marina Litvinovich, was arrested for calling on Russians to gather in various cities in the country to protest against the war.
Marina wrote on messaging app Telegram that she was detained on her way out of her house.
Russian personalities protest on social media
As authorities clamped down on physical protests, Russian celebrities and influencers took to online platforms to protest against their government's actions.
According to WSJ, a Russian entertainment host, Ivan Urgant, uploaded a blank black post on his Instagram account with the caption in Russian reading: "Fear and pain. No to war."
A Russian rapper Miron Fyodorov, known as Oxxxymiron, posted a video on his social media platforms that he was not able to entertain while Russian missiles "rain down" on Ukraine. He added that residents of Kyiv had to take shelter in basements and subway stations, and that people are dying.
The Guardian reported that Yuri Dudt, one of Russia's most influential personalities, said that he "did not vote for this regime" and felt ashamed of the actions.
The post received nearly a million likes in about 24 hours.
Another popular personality, Russian singer Valery Meladze, posted a video begging Putin to stop the invasion, the Guardian reported.
"Today something happened that should have never happened. History will be the judge of these events. But today, I beg you, please stop the war," he said.
Other than notable figures and celebrities, ordinary people were also active on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, in protest of the Russian invasion.
WSJ reported that the hashtags #notowarwithUkraine and #Iwontbesilent were trending following Russia's move in Ukraine.
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