Mikhail Lobanov, a leader of the University Solidarity labor union and democratic socialist politician, was repeatedly arrested, imprisoned, and sometimes badly beaten during 2022 for such crimes as displaying a “No to War” banner on his balcony and “discrediting the army.”

By Lawrence Wittner, CounterPunch

Given the Russian government’s brutal repression of dissent, the level of Russian resistance to the Putin regime’s war on Ukraine is quite remarkable.

russian anti war protestor arrested

Beginning on the evening of February 24, 2022, the date of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, many thousands of Russians, defying threats from the authorities, staged nonviolent antiwar demonstrations across their nation. On the first night alone, police made 1,820 arrests of peace demonstrators in 58 Russian cities. Over the ensuing weeks, the mass protests continued, with the intrepid demonstrators chanting or holding up signs reading “No to War.” As the authorities viewed any mention of “war” as a crime, even elementary school children were arrested when they said the forbidden slogan. Some peace demonstrators took to holding up blank signs, but they, too, were arrested. By March 13, according to OVD-Info, a Russian human rights group, the police had made at least 14,906 arrests of these and other Russian peace demonstrators.

Russian war resisters also engaged in numerous other activities. Marina Ovsyannikova, an editor at Channel One Russia, disrupted the station’s main news program by holding up a sign reading: “NO WAR. Stop the war. Do not believe the propaganda.” Prominent cultural figures and politicians spoke out publicly against the war. By March 1, an online petition protesting the invasion had drawn a million supporters. Signers of open letters that called for stopping the war included 30,000 technology workers, 6,000 medical workers, 3,400 architects, more than 4,300 teachers, more than 17,000 artists, 500 scientists, and 2,000 actors and other creative figures. Other activists posted antiwar stickers in neighborhoods, replaced supermarket labels with protest statements, and even wrote peace messages on currency. Most startlingly, Russian soldiers began refusing to fight in Ukraine.

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