LONDON (Reuters) -Police detained extra than 4,300 individuals on Sunday at Russia-wide protests towards President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, in keeping with an unbiased protest monitoring group.
Thousands of protesters chanted “No to conflict!” and “Shame on you!”, in keeping with movies posted on social media by opposition activists and bloggers.
Dozens of protesters in the Urals metropolis of Yekaterinburg had been proven being detained. One protester there was proven being crushed on the bottom by police in riot gear. A mural in town displaying President Vladimir Putin was defaced.
Reuters was unable to independently confirm the footage and images on social media. Russia’s inside ministry mentioned earlier that police had detained round 3,500 individuals, together with 1,700 in Moscow, 750 in St Petersburg and 1,061 in different cities.
The inside ministry mentioned 5,200 individuals had taken half in the protests. The OVD-Info protest monitoring group mentioned it had documented the detention of at least 4,366 individuals in 56 totally different cities.
“The screws are being totally tightened – basically we’re witnessing navy censorship,” Maria Kuznetsova, OVD-Info’s spokeswoman, mentioned by phone from Tbilisi.
“We are seeing moderately large protests at this time, even in Siberian cities the place we solely hardly ever noticed such numbers of arrests.”
The final Russian protests with an analogous variety of arrests had been in January 2021, when hundreds demanded the discharge of opposition chief Alexei Navalny after he was arrested on coming back from Germany the place he had been recovering from a nerve agent poisoning.
Some Russian state-controlled media carried brief reviews about Sunday’s protests however they didn’t function excessive in information bulletins.
Russia’s RIA information company mentioned the Manezhnaya Square in Moscow, adjoining the Kremlin, had been “liberated” by police, who had arrested some individuals of an unsanctioned protest towards the navy operation in Ukraine.
RIA additionally confirmed footage of what seemed to be supporters of the Kremlin driving alongside the embankment in Moscow with Russian flags and displaying the “Z” and “V” markings utilized by Russian forces on tanks working in Ukraine.
Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, mentioned Russian values had been being examined by the West, which supplied solely extreme consumption and the phantasm of freedom.
Putin, Russia’s paramount chief since 1999, calls the invasion, launched on Feb. 24, a “particular navy operation”. He says it’s aimed at defending Ukraine’s Russian-speaking communities towards persecution and stopping the United States from utilizing Ukraine to threaten Russia.
The West has known as his arguments a baseless pretext for conflict and imposed sanctions that intention to cripple the Russian economic system. The United States, Britain and another NATO members have equipped arms to Ukraine.
Navalny had known as for protests on Sunday throughout Russia and the remainder of the world towards the invasion.
About 2,000 individuals attended an anti-war protest in Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis Almaty, in keeping with movies posted on social media. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the posts.
The crowd shouted slogans comparable to “No to conflict!” and obscenities directed at Putin whereas waving Ukrainian flags.
Blue and yellow balloons had been positioned in the hand of a statue of Lenin towering over the small sq. the place the rally came about.
The Russian state polling company VTsIOM mentioned Putin’s approval ranking had risen 6 share factors to 70% in the week to Feb. 27. FOM, which supplies analysis for the Kremlin, mentioned his ranking had risen 7 share factors to 71% in the identical interval.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Catherine Evans, Frances Kerry, William Maclean and Kevin Liffey)