Protesters in Russia are being detained just for protesting with blank posters, according to videos being shared on social media.
The Kremlin has been cracking down on anti-war demonstrations since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine almost three weeks ago.
The controversial move has caused widespread devastation in Ukraine, and isolated Russia as the international community condemns Putin’s aggression with severe sanctions.
However, Moscow has been shutting down independent media outlets and reducing access to social media platforms for Russian citizens to prevent the reality of the Ukrainian invasion reaching the general public.
People in Russia have not even been able to call the invasion what it is, or a war.
Now the Russian authorities have gone one step further and appear to be removing demonstrators with blank signs from the streets, as seen in this video:
According to independent Russian human rights project, Ovd Info, approximately 14,911 people in Russia have been detained since Putin launched his invasion in Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Similar videos have also been shared on Twitter. In one, a woman holds up a sign which just says, “two words” in Russian.
The activist asks the cameraman, “Am I going to get arrested for this or not?”
Within a matter of seconds, she is removed by a group of police officers dressed in protective gear with helmets and visors.
Then another woman approaches the camera, and starts to explain why she supports the war against Ukraine – but before she can say anything, police grab her by the arm and pull her away from the screen too.
Another social media video appears to show Russian citizens deflecting questions about whether they agree with the war.
Speaking out against the war could lead to hefty fines or imprisonment for up to 15 years. This dramatic legislation came into place during the first week of the invasion, after the Russian Duma cracked down on the spread of any so-called “false information” related to the invasion.
As a result, open acts of defiance — such as the one seen below — are rare and usually come with significant consequences.