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Russia Cracks Down on Home Front as Its Troops Invade Ukraine

Russia arrests more than 1,600 anti-war protesters
People attend an anti-war protest, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in Ukraine, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov
People attend an anti-war protest, after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military operation in Ukraine, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

Police on Thursday detained more than 1,600 Russians who protested against Russia’s multi-pronged military operation in Ukraine, while authorities threatened to block media reports that contain what Moscow described as “false information”.

In acts of cautious, but unusual dissent, Russian pop stars, journalists, a television comedian and a footballer opposed the war online after President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday.

By 1939 GMT, police had detained 1,667 people at rallies in 53 cities, the OVD-Info rights monitor said, easily the biggest tally since last year’s crushing of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s network ushered in an ice age in activism.

Protesters defied a warning issued on Thursday by the Investigative Committee, a kind of Russian answer to the FBI, that explicitly threatened criminal action and even jail time for people calling for or taking part in protests.

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