In Russia, protests of invasion persist despite Kremlin crackdown

Protesters again took to the streets of Moscow and other major cities to protest the war in Ukraine, defying a crackdown by the Kremlin in a rare outbreak of determined domestic pushback against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian press outlets and private rights groups say small but determined demonstrations were held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara and other cities Sunday, many chanting “No more war!” according to The Moscow Times.

OVD-Info, a Russian advocacy group that tracks police arrests nationwide, said the database it is compiling showed police had detained more than 1,400 participants in anti-war protests in dozens of cities. More than 3,000 people were already taken in by authorities after police and security forces moved in on demonstrations held since Wednesday when Russian forces crossed over into Ukraine.

In St. Petersburg, police in riot gear seized nonviolent protesters and took many away in police vans, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The Ukrainian government on Sunday took another step to encourage resistance within Russia to the war, launching a Russian-language website that it says Russian families can use to find soldiers who have been killed or taken prisoner in the fighting. The website displays identification documents of those killed and photos of corpses Kyiv says are Russian soldiers killed in the invasion.

“I know that many Russians are worried about how and where their children, sons, [and] husbands are and what is happening to them — so we decided to put this online so that each of you could search for your loved one who Putin sent to fight in Ukraine,” Viktor Andrusiv, an official in Ukraine‘s Interior Ministry says in the video on the new website.

“If your relatives or friends are in Ukraine and participate in the war against our people — here you can get information about their fate,” the website says on its homepage. “Unfortunately, it is difficult to identify a lot of those killed. We deliberately post these photos and videos, [so] you may recognize someone by indirect signs.”

The name of the Ukrainian website, 200rf.com, is itself a bit of military psychological warfare: It’s a play on the grim Soviet-era euphemism “Cargo-200,” referring to the body bags of soldiers killed in Russia‘s disastrous decade-long military campaign in Afghanistan.

Mr. Andrusiv repeated Ukrainian government claims that some 3,000 Russian troops have already been killed in the five-day war. Russia‘s Defense Ministry has not issued its own public tally of its losses.

Despite Mr. Putin‘s iron grip on political power, a number of prominent Russians, including artists, athletes, chess players and business leaders have also gone public with their opposition to the war.

In one remarkable defection, the scientist who heads Russia‘s delegation to a major United Nations climate conference personally apologized for the war, saying there was no justification for the conflict.

Oleg Anisimov offered the apology immediately after a Ukrainian colleague criticized Russia at the virtual plenary of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, now in the midst of a two-week meeting.

“Let me present an apology on behalf of all Russians not able to prevent this conflict,” Mr. Anisimov said at the forum, the Agence France-Presse news service reported, citing three sources who heard his comments.

Those who have watched the crisis unfold, he added speaking in Russian, “fail to find any justification for the attack on Ukraine.”

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