March 22, 2023

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More than 4,300 arrested in anti-war protests in Russia

More than 4,300 arrested in anti-war protests in Russia

  • Police arrest anti-war protesters
  • Protests in cities across Russia
  • Russian pollsters say Putin’s ratings have jumped

LONDON (Reuters) – Police arrested more than 4,300 people on Sunday in Russia-wide protests against President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to an independent protest monitoring group.

“No to war,” thousands of demonstrators chanted. And “shame on you”, according to videos posted on social media by opposition activists and bloggers.

Dozens of protesters were seen in Yekaterinburg, in the Urals, under arrest. One protester was seen being beaten to the ground by riot police. A mural in the city showing President Vladimir Putin has been defaced.

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Reuters was unable to independently verify the footage and photos on social media. The Russian Interior Ministry said earlier that the police had arrested about 3,500 people, including 1,700 in Moscow, 750 in St. Petersburg and 1,061 in other cities.

The Interior Ministry said 5,200 people took part in the protests. Protest monitoring group OVD-Info said it has documented the detention of at least 4,366 people in 56 different cities.

“The noose is being tightened completely – we are basically seeing military censorship,” OVD-Info spokeswoman Maria Kuznetsova said by phone from Tbilisi.

“Today we are witnessing fairly large protests, even in Siberian cities where we rarely see such numbers of arrests.”

The latest Russian protests took place with a similar number of arrests in January 2021, when thousands demanded the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny after he was arrested upon his return from Germany where he was recovering from nerve agent poisoning.

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Some Russian state-controlled media carried short reports on Sunday’s protests, but they did not rank high on the newscasts.

The RIA said that Moscow’s Manzhnaya Square, adjacent to the Kremlin, had been “liberated” by the police, who arrested some participants in an unauthorized protest against the military operation in Ukraine.

Church support

The RIA also showed footage of what appeared to be Kremlin supporters driving along the bridge in Moscow, waving Russian flags and the “Z” and “V” signs used by Russian forces on tanks operating in Ukraine.

Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, said that Russian values ​​are being tested by the West, which has offered nothing but excessive consumption and the illusion of freedom.

Putin, Russia’s supreme leader since 1999, called the invasion, which began on February 24, a “special military operation.” He says it aims to defend Ukraine’s Russian-speaking communities against persecution and prevent the United States from using Ukraine to threaten Russia.

The West described its arguments as a baseless excuse for war and imposed sanctions aimed at crippling the Russian economy. The United States, Britain, and some other NATO members supplied arms to Ukraine.

On Sunday, Navalny called for protests across Russia and the rest of the world against the invasion. Read more

About 2,000 people took part in an anti-war demonstration in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, according to videos posted on social media. Reuters was not able to independently verify the posts.

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The crowd chanted “No to war!” And insults directed at Putin waving Ukrainian flags.

Blue and yellow balloons were held in the hand of a statue of Lenin towering over the small square where the gathering took place.

Russia’s state polling agency VTsIOM said Putin’s support rating rose 6 percentage points to 70% in the week to February 27. The FBI, which provides research to the Kremlin, said its assessment had risen 7 percentage points to 71% in the same period. .

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(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge). Editing by Catherine Evans, Frances Kerry, William MacLean, and Kevin Levy

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.