Russia Arrests Multiple People for Holding Up Blank Signs

Anti-war protesters in Russia are being detained by police for holding up blank posters as part of demonstrations protesting against President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

As mass demonstrations against Russia's invasion of Ukraine continue to intensify, a woman in in Nizhny Novgorod, in central Russia, was arrested on Sunday for protesting with a blank sign.

A video of the incident shared on social media, which has gone viral, shows the moment two police officers approach the woman and escort her away from a crowd in Russia's sixth-largest city. The woman appeared to be the only person holding up a sign.

"Police in Nizhny Novgorod arrested a demonstrator today for protesting with a blank sign. Welcome to Russia in 2022," tweeted Kevin Rothrock, editor for the English edition of independent news outlet Meduza.

Separately, in the city of Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia, police arrested activist Anastasia Nikolaeva just days after the invasion began, according to Russian independent human rights group OVD-Info. The group said she was found guilty of disobeying a police officer after she held a single-person picket holding a blank sheet of paper.

Another man was reportedly arrested in Kirov Square in Yekaterinburg on March 6 for demonstrating with a blank sheet of paper, according a local independent news outlet.

The arrests come amid widespread crackdowns against anti-war protesters in Russia.

On February 25, Russia's Investigative Committee issued a statement warning citizens that they could be arrested for organizing or participating in illegal protests.

"All such offenses, as before, will receive an adequate legal evaluation, and the persons who committed illegal actions will face appropriate punishment," the statement said.

In its latest update on March 13, OVD-Info, which monitors arrests during protests, said that since Russia invaded Ukraine, 14,853 protesters have been detained across 151 Russian cities.

"On Sunday, March 13, anti-war rallies took place once more across many Russian cities. According to our data, as of 21:42 pm more than 866 people in 37 cities were detained. We know of people protesting against the war in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Khabarovsk, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok, Yekaterinburg, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Irkutsk, Barnaul, Tomsk and Perm. This is not a complete list," OVD-Info said.

According to independent Russian news outlet SOTA, Ivanovo resident Mikhail Gusev was arrested and accused of discrediting the Russian army after he was demonstrated holding a sign with the inscription *** *****, which likely stands for "no to war" in Russian.

Russia's legislature passed legislation earlier in March that imposes jail terms of up to 15 years for those who call their "special military operation" in Ukraine a war or an invasion. Multiple major news outlets have since ceased reporting from Russia.

Follow our live blog for updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Russian anti-war protesters
Russian anti-war protesters demonstrate holding blank sheets of paper. A woman in in Nizhny Novgorod in central Russia was arrested on Sunday for protesting with a blank sign, one of a number of instances of such arrests across the country. @KevinRothrock and @Ovdinfo/Twitter