The Russian government is cracking down on anti-war protests around the country

The Russian government is cracking down on anti-war protests around the country

As demonstrators take to the streets to voice their opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian government is cracking down on its own citizens in towns around the country.

Despite Putin’s efforts to convince his populace that the Ukrainian Government was prosecuting a genocide against Russian-speakers in the country’s easternmost region, many Russians are showing up in the streets to register their discontent with the already bloody conflict.

Numerous videos circulating on social media show large crowds gathering in Russian cities — including Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The Russian government has responded by instructing its people to “refrain from unsanctioned protests” and warning that those who violate that order will be “arrested & brought to responsibility.” It’s citing the coronavirus pandemic as its justification for the crackdown.

OVD-Info, an independent Russian human rights organization, is reporting that as of as of 10:48p.m. local time on Thursday, almost 1,700 people in 53 cities had been arrested.

Protesters are responding to a full-scale invasion of Ukraine that has included airstrikes targeting cities across Russia’s western neighbor. Putin has a long history of aggressively and preemptively shutting down internal opposition to his rule. Alexei Navalny, the chief Russian opposition figure who has previously been poisoned and jailed, is presently being tried on various bogus charges.

In a statement delivered at his trial on Thursday, Navalny stated that “this war between Russia and Ukraine was unleashed to cover up the theft from Russian citizens and divert their attention from problems that exist inside the country.”

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