Moscow (AP) —Shocked Russians blamed their country’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday as emotional calls for protests increased on social media. Approximately 1,745 people were detained in 54 Russian cities, of which at least 957 were detained in Moscow.
Hundreds of posts have been poured to condemn Moscow’s most aggressive actions since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Vladimir Putin called the attack a “special military operation” to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine from “genocide.” The false allegations predicted by the United States were an excuse for aggression, and many Russians rejected it altogether.
Moscow opposition activist Tatiana Usmanova wrote on Facebook that she thought she was dreaming when she woke up at 5:30 am.
“I would like to ask the Ukrainians for forgiveness. I didn’t vote for those who unleashed the war,” she said.
Related video: Russia’s attack on Ukraine provokes protests around the world
When a siren rang in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, and a big explosion was heard there, the Russians signed an open letter and signed an online petition requesting Kremlin to stop the attack. The Ukrainian Minister of Health said he had killed at least 57 Ukrainians and injured dozens. more.
“Public opinion is shocked and people are shocked,” political analyst Abbas Gariyamov told The Associated Press.
One petition, initiated by prominent human rights defender Lev Ponomavyov, received over 150,000 signatures within hours and over 330,000 signatures by the end of the day. More than 250 journalists have put their names in open letters condemning aggression. The other was signed by about 250 scientists, with 194 city council members in Moscow and other cities signing one-third.
“I’m very worried about people. I’m worried about tears,” said Zoya Borobei, who lives in Korolev, a suburb of Moscow. “I’ve been watching TV every minute since this morning to see if anything changes. Unfortunately, nothing.”
Several Russian celebrities and public figures, including those working on state television, opposed the attack. Elena Kovalskaya, director of the state-owned Moscow Theater, announced on Facebook that she quit her job saying, “It’s impossible to work for the murderer and get paid from him.”
In a video statement on Facebook, human rights activist Marina Litvinovich said, “We know that many people are now desperate, helpless and embarrassed about Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine’s friendly nations. But I urge you not to despair. ” Mass protest on Thursday night.
“We Russians are against the war that Putin unleashed. We do not support this war, it is done not for us,” Ritvinovich said.
But the authorities didn’t have it at all.
In Moscow and other cities, they swiftly moved to crack down on critical voices. Ritvinovich was detained outside her residence shortly after posting her protest call. OVD-Info, a rights group to track political arrests, reported that by Thursday night, 1,745 people had been detained in 54 cities, of which at least 957 had been detained in Moscow.
The Russian investigative commission issued a warning Thursday afternoon, reminding Russians that unauthorized protests violated the law.
Roskomnadzor, the National Communications and Media Surveillance Agency, has requested that the Russian media use “information and data obtained only from official Russian sources”. Some media reported that employees of certain state-owned enterprises were instructed not to publicly comment on what happened in Ukraine.
Human rights advocates have warned of a new wave of crackdowns on the opposition.
“There are new (criminal) cases, including capsizing, espionage, treason, and anti-war prosecution, detention of journalists, bloggers, and those who wrote critical posts on social media, banning military status investigations, etc. There is. ” Prominent human rights defender Pavel Chikov wrote on Facebook.
“It’s hard to say how big this new wave will be, given that everything is already suppressed.”
Despite pressure from authorities, more than 1,000 people gathered in central Moscow on Thursday night, saying, “I’m against the war!” Like a passing car rang their corners.
Hundreds of people went out to the streets in St. Petersburg and dozens of people in Yekaterinburg.
“Today is the most shameful and terrible day of my life. I couldn’t even go to work. My country is an invader. I hate Putin. I attended a demonstration in St. Petersburg 40 Year-old engineer Yekaterina Kuznetsova told AP.
Meanwhile, Russia’s official routes remained uncompromising. Senator Valentina Matvienko accused those who opposed the attack of being concerned only with their “momentary problems.”
State television portrayed the attack in line with Putin’s announcement in a television speech.
Russia-1 television host Olga Skabayeva called it an effort “to protect the people of Donbus from the Nazi regime” and said it was “an important point of history, without exaggeration.”
AP writer Kirill Zarubin contributed this report from Korolev, Russia.