At least 5,000 people were arrested Sunday in 69 Russian cities for participating in protests against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the non-governmental organization OVD-Info announced today.
This is an unprecedented number of arrests in one day, much higher than that recorded during the demonstrations that broke out in early 2021 in Russia against the arrest of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny.
About 2,300 people were arrested in Moscow yesterday and 1,253 in St. Petersburg, according to the NGO. At least 320 of them spent the night at police stations.
Demonstrations took place in dozens of other cities in Russia.
Activists posted videos showing violent arrests of protesters, with police beating or kicking them.
To quell any dissent, the Russian parliament on Friday passed a bill criminalizing the spread of “fake news” about the military, with sentences of up to 15 years in prison.
The text also provides for prison sentences for anyone seeking to impose sanctions on Russia, with the law targeting ordinary citizens and not just journalists or other media professionals.
Those who protest or call for demonstrations against the Russian invasion of Ukraine risk being convicted under this law.