Anti-war demonstrations broke out in major cities across the country, including Moscow, where videos show a significant security force deployed to quell dissent, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hometown of St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg.
The Kremlin took aggressive action to stifle the protests. Videos shared on social media show police officers almost immediately arresting anyone participating.
Some 1,745 people in 54 Russian cities were detained Thursday, at least 957 of them in Moscow, according to The Associated Press.
“I know that right now many of you feel desperation, helplessness, shame over Vladimir Putin’s attack on the friendly nation of Ukraine. But I urge you not to despair,” human rights activist Marina Litvinovich said in a video statement on Facebook, calling for mass protests Thursday evening.
“We, the Russian people, are against the war Putin has unleashed. We don’t support this war, it is being waged not on our behalf.”
Russian police detained Litvinovich soon after as she left her Moscow apartment.
“I am embarrassed for my country. To be honest with you, I am speechless. War is always scary. We don’t want this,” Nikita Golubev, a 30-year-old teacher, told The Guardian in Moscow. “Why are we doing this?”
Russians who participate in “unsanctioned protests” such as these do so at significant personal risk, including jail time and substantial fines.
The Telegraph’s Russia correspondent Nataliya Vasilyeva said protesters have been taken away “indiscriminately” and that she was briefly detained despite repeatedly saying she was a journalist.