Russia passed laws to restrict free assembly, but there are Russians who defy the laws to protest or hold vigils for the war in Ukraine. In the most recent event, Russians attempted to light 2,249 candles to commemorate the number of civilians killed in east Ukraine.
“Respected citizens! Extinguish the candles. This is forbidden in a public place!” said the police, who then destroyed the candles and proceeded to arrest protesters.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner said the actual number is 2,593 with the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17. Some are angry that Russians have led people into the conflict without the complete truth of the situation.
“I have come to remember those who have died on both sides of the conflict taking place in Ukraine,” said Gazeta.ru employee Dmitry Kartsev.
“I’m not an activist at all,” said another protester. “I’m a person who is bitter, that people died-died due to stupidity. People died who don’t even know the truth about what is happening. I have a friend who went to Donbass as a volunteer. And died. That’s it, the man is gone.”
Not everyone in Russia falls for Russian propaganda pertaining to the Russia-Ukraine war. A few see through the lies Russian President Vladimir Putin pushes through the state-run media, despite his efforts to shut down independent thought and press. Military wives protested Russian authorities because no one will tell them if their husbands are still alive in Ukraine.
On August 28, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty documented a few people who also protested Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Dmitry Monakhov went to Manezh Square and was arrested. He has not tweeted since September 1 when he faced a judge in court.
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— Dmitry Monakhov (@dmtrmon) September 1, 2014
Russian billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky told fellow Russians to protest Putin and the war in Ukraine.
“We’re fighting with Ukraine – in real,” he said, adding, “We’re sending military forces and vehicles there. Ukrainians fight good, but started backing down. The forces are not equal.”
Khodorkovsky also asserted:
Our government was lying about Afghanistan in the ’80s and about Chechnya in the ’90s. While today they lie about Ukraine as we bury our former colleagues, friends and relatives, who are now fighting on both sides and killing each other, not because they want to, but because of an aging power that always needs blood.
Khodorkovsky used to be Russia’s richest man before Putin imprisoned him on alleged charges of fraud and tax evasion. At the time, he was in charge of Russian oil company Yukos. The core asset of Yukos, Yuganskneftegaz, which produced 60% of the company’s oil, was sold to one bidder: Baikalfinansgrup. This company was acquired by none other than state-owned petroleum giant Rosneft just a few days before the auction. Igor Sechin, Putin’s right-hand man and lieutenant, is CEO of Rosneft. Yukos was liquidated in 2007.
On August 25, Russian police arrested five people after they displayed Ukraine’s flag near the Kremlin to celebrate Ukraine’s Independence Day from the Soviet Union.