MOSCOW (AP) — Shocked Russians turned out by the thousands Thursday to decry their country’s invasion of Ukraine as emotional calls for protests grew on social media. Some 1,702 people in 53 Russian cities were detained, at least 940 of them in Moscow.
Hundreds of posts came pouring in condemning Moscow’s most aggressive actions since the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Vladimir Putin called the attack a “special military operation” to protect civilians in eastern Ukraine from “genocide” — a false claim the U.S. had predicted would be a pretext for invasion, and which many Russians roundly rejected.
Tatyana Usmanova, an opposition activist in Moscow, wrote on Facebook that she thought she was dreaming when she awoke at 5:30 a.m. to the news, which she called “a disgrace that will be forever with us now.”
“I want to ask Ukrainians for forgiveness. We didn’t vote for those who unleashed the war,” she said.
As sirens blasted in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, and large explosions were heard there and in other cities, Russians were signing open letters and online petitions demanding the Kremlin halt the assault, which Ukrainian forces reported had killed more than 40 soldiers and wounded dozens.
“Public opinion is in shock, people are in shock,” political analyst Abbas Gallyamov told The Associated Press.
One petition, started by a prominent human rights advocate, Lev Ponomavyov, garnered over 150,000 signatures within several hours and 289,000 by the end of the day. More than 250 journalists put their names on an open letter decrying the aggression. Another one was signed by some 250 scientists, while 194 municipal council members in Moscow and other cities signed a third.
Click on the link below to continue…