Pin It
ukraine protest
Photography Dovile Ramoskaite

Russians are bravely protesting Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Hundreds took to the streets in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Moscow

Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea in the early hours of Thursday morning. The world has looked on in horror, with many protests opposing the war breaking out in major cities.

Russian citizens are protesting the war too, with hundreds taking to the streets in St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Moscow on Thursday. The protesters chanted “No to war!” as they joined together to oppose the invasion.

These brave protestors aren’t alone in opposing their country’s invasion of Ukraine. A new poll released by the Levada Centre showed that only 45 per cent of Russians were in favour of Putin’s formal recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk which preceded the Ukraine invasion, while 66 per cent of young Russians had a “positive attitude” towards Ukraine. A CNN poll also found that only 25 per cent of Russians said it would be wrong to use military force to prevent Kyiv from joining NATO.

Even Russia’s rich and famous – usually supportive of Putin’s policies – have spoken out against the invasion. Valery Meladze, one of the country’s most revered singers, posted a video on Instagram where he condemned the decision to go to war. “Today something happened that should have never happened. History will be the judge of these events. But today, I beg you, please stop the war,” he said.

Although many Russians evidently don’t support the invasion, vocally protesting the war is a dangerous endeavour. In total, almost 2,000 Russian citizens have been arrested for opposing Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine and authorities have warned protestors that “negative comments” about the invasion could be treated as treason – a criminal offence.

It’s too late for many Ukrainians. At least 137 people have died as a result of Putin’s attacks on the country, and devastatingly, it looks as though the death toll is only set to climb higher as the Russian military increases its presence in Ukraine. 

But Russian opposition to the war is undoubtedly cause for hope, especially considering the sheer bravery and courage needed to stand up to a despot like Putin. Even Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s president, has acknowledged the power Russian citizens have and urged them to speak up. “If the Russian leaders don’t want to sit with us behind the table for the sake of peace, maybe they will sit behind the table with you,” he said in an address on Thursday. “Do Russians want the war? I would like to know the answer. But the answer depends only on you, citizens of the Russian Federation.”