Russians say “Stop the war” those who protest are arrested
#Russians say “Stop the war” but those who protest are arrested. Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova is under house arrest for protesting.
Russian journalist who protested the war in Ukraine live on TV has been placed under house arrest where the Moscow court has placed former editor-in-chief of Russian state television Marina Ovsyannikova under house arrest for two months awaiting trial related to his July anti-war protest, the court’s press office said in a statement Thursday.
According to the statement, Ovsyannikova was charged with spreading false information about the Russian military and was placed under house arrest until October 9. The offense is punishable by 10 years in prison under Russian law.
Ovsyannikova, who previously worked as an editor for Russian state broadcaster One, took a dramatic stance against Russia’s war in Ukraine during a live broadcast in March when she broke into the studio and was appeared behind a news anchor with a sign that read, “NO WAR.”
She previously told CNN that she had already received three fines totaling 120,000 rubles (about $1,970) for her anti-war statements, including allegedly “discrediting” the military in her Facebook post that she published on Russia Day.
In March 2022, as thousands of Russians took to the streets to protest the war and the invasion of Ukraine, many were arrested and others were suffocated. After that, new reports indicate that most Russians are in favor of war, but no Russian voice is heard to say the same.
77-year-old peace activist Yelena Osipova survived the brutal Nazi siege of Leningrad, accustomed to incarceration during military conflict. However, she was arrested by her own government on Wednesday when the two officers took her away. She is one of thousands of Russians who took to the streets to protest Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. “We have only one demand,” says Maria, a seasoned activist from Moscow: “Stop the war!”
On February 24, the first day of the invasion, 1,700 anti-war protesters were arrested across Russia, including three Radio Liberty journalists accredited by the authorities to cover the protests. In a video the journalists managed to smuggle out of prison, one is seen telling the police that this is the “official press” and begs the officers to stop wringing their arms and the legs. On March 2, Nika Samusik, a journalist for the independent news source Sota, was arrested for filming an anti-war rally in Saint Petersburg. After nine days of war, more than 8,100 protesters have been arrested, according to OVD-Info, Russia’s protest watchdog.
The Russian authorities’ low tolerance for demonstrations and marches is old. Organizing or simply attending protests can have serious consequences, including arrests, fines – and even jail time.
Under Russia’s Administrative Offenses Code, calling an unauthorized protest carries a potential fine of 10,000 to 20,000 rubles (about $90 to $185). Given that the national average monthly paycheck was 56,500 rubles in 2021, this is a big penalty. Moreover, the law is interpreted in a punitive way: even a single person carrying an anti-war poster counts as an unauthorized assembly. “Just posting ‘Stop the War’ on Twitter is considered an illegal protest,” says a journalist from Vladivostok.
Persistent protesters — a definition that can mean as little as attending two rallies — face fines of up to 300,000 rubles, 30 days in jail or 200 hours of hard labor. “Authorities say participating in protests is akin to involvement in an extremist organization,” one protester told me. “And yet, we will continue to fight for peace,” she said.
Authorities say participating in protests is akin to involvement in an extremist organization, yet we will continue to fight for peace’
Bravely they protest and a young woman in Moscow explains that she continues to take to the streets “because a bloody war is being waged in our name and we have not even been consulted”. She adds: “Our rights are openly and illegally violated by a government that does not respect its people. And we protest because we don’t want to be socially, politically and economically isolated from the world – we want freedom of expression and choice over our future.’
For many protesters, now is a turning point for Russia and Ukraine. “We want to prevent more casualties in this war,” said a Moscow protester. “We must prevent Putin from imposing martial law which would cut us off from independent reporting, close our borders, ban demonstrations and allow the authorities to conscript our young men.”
On February 26, Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor banned national media from using the words “war”, “invasion” or “aggression” to describe Putin’s aggression against Ukraine. For violating this order, Roskomnadzor on March 1 removed the country’s last independent broadcasters, Ekho Moscow and TV Dozhd, blocking access to their websites. On March 4, the media services of BBC Russia, Radio Liberty and Meduza were restricted. Access to social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Google is also tightening, deterring protesters from sharing information and organizing actions.
For Putin, control of information is important, as it is clear that those protesting his butchery in Ukraine are largely young Russians who rely on independent news sources. “The majority of Russians who watch state TV believe in Kremlin propaganda and support Putin and his army,” says one activist. “Younger, more educated Russians are not brainwashed by state television and understand what is going on. They are shocked and helpless. They know there’s nothing they can do to stop the madness, but they can’t stay home and pretend everything is normal. They take to the streets knowing that they will be beaten, arrested and thrown in jail because there is nothing else they can do.
Belarus’ experience shows mass protests can be stifled by violence’
A female protester in Moscow said protesters were “willing to risk everything for freedom”. And it is true that the cost of participating in protests is high. “The protesters risk being fired from their jobs or expelled from the university,” says a journalist from a Vladivostok media outlet in the Russian Far East.
Reacting to protests last year over the jailing of opposition activist Alexei Navalny, companies fearing the wrath of the Kremlin have banned employees from attending rallies. Navalny’s imprisonment and banning of his Anti-Corruption Foundation for “extremism” in June 2021 removed the last opposition institution capable of rapidly staging mass protests across Russia.
But although the Russian protests against the invasion of Ukraine are smaller and less organized than those against the war in Donbass in 2014, they are more widespread – and they can still grow. Russian celebrities, who have generally avoided talking about controversial political topics since the Kremlin took control of Russian airwaves in the early 2000s, are posting anti-war messages online.
Additionally, protesters are increasingly sharing information about detentions on messaging services like Telegram, which are also becoming a source of information about the time and location of gatherings that are difficult for authorities to control. Activists are also working to establish lines of communication with the wider population, especially on the economic cost of sanctions and the number of Russian casualties.
Novaya Gazeta editor and Noble Prize winner Dmitry Murakov said “the future is dead”. Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza said: “This is not the Russian people’s war, it is yet another illegal war waged by an unelected, irresponsible and frankly deranged dictator in the Kremlin.”