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Ukraine conflict: Authorities crackdown on anti-war protests in Russia

Daily anti-war protests have taken place across Russia since military forces invaded Ukraine on 24 February. According to the independent monitor OVD-Info, more than 13,000 people have been detained in 147 cities as of 7 March.

Reacting to the growing discontent, the Russian Duma passed amendments to the Criminal Code on 4 March, stating that the citizens will face fines or 15 years in prison for spreading ‘fake news', calling for sanctions, or who “discredit” Russia's armed forces.

Following the announcement, more than 40 anti-war activists had their homes searched in the cities of Pskov, Saint Petersburg, and Vladimir. According to Russian social media posts following the amendment, police also started to stop people in the streets to check the content of their mobile phones, looking for connections to the protests. Despite the measures, protests have continued.

Police detained approximately 5,000 participants in anti-war protests across the country on 6 March. Russian state-owned news outlet Ria Novosti reported that 1,700 people were detained in Moscow alone, however the anti-war rallies took place in 69 cities, including Irkutsk, Kemerovo, Khabarovsk, Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Saint Petersburg, Tomsk, Vladivostok, and Yekaterinburg. The geographic spread of the protests illustrates that anti-war sentiment is not concentrated only in major cities or those close to the borders with Ukraine.

The protests were peaceful, however, according to OVD-Info, at least 30 protesters were beaten by security forces. Videos and audio, shared on Russian channels on Telegram, showed police personnel beating the protesters in the streets and torturing them in the police stations.

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