Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Moscow Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine Thursday, killing dozens and triggering warnings from Western leaders of unprecedented sanctions. Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images.
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!”
Multiple arrests in central Moscow this afternoon as people come out with posters reading “No to War!” The central Pushkin Square has now been blocked off by police. pic.twitter.com/2Wy9Vt6yWF
— Matthew Luxmoore (@mjluxmoore) February 24, 2022
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.
Look at the size of anti-war protestors in St Petersburg, Russia. Wow pic.twitter.com/dHg9Uwt9RQ
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) February 24, 2022
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.
Unfurls banner "No to war in Ukraine", immediately arrested. Have seen several arrests and protest hasn't even started pic.twitter.com/kyWceFf6m9
— Alec Luhn (@ASLuhn) February 24, 2022
Video also appears to show a large group of protesters in Novosibirsk — thousands of miles east of Moscow — chanting “No to war!”
В Новосибирске шествие. Скандируют: "Нет войне!" pic.twitter.com/ou5bwTnI9P
— Сергей Бойко (@_sergey_boyko) February 24, 2022
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.
Ethan E. Rocke is a contributor and former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine, a New York Times bestselling author, and award-winning photographer and filmmaker. He is a veteran of the US Army and Marine Corps. His work has been published in Maxim Magazine, American Legion Magazine, and many others. He is co-author of The Last Punisher: A SEAL Team THREE Sniper’s True Account of the Battle of Ramadi.