Russian Police Arrest 13K Protesters as Ukraine Invasion Opposition Surges

More than 13,000 protesters have been arrested in Russia over the past several weeks, as opposition to the invasion of Ukraine has increased among Russian citizens.

According to data from OVD-Info, a human rights organization that is tracking the number of arrests in Russia, since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, there have been 13,015 protesters detained across 147 different cities.

"On March 6, Russian police detained over 4,640 people who participated in anti-war rallies in 65 cities. At least 30 instances of protesters being beaten have been confirmed and it is likely that this number is much higher. There are many videos on social networks in which police officers are seen beating anti-war protesters," OVD-Info said in an update on March 6.

On February 28, Newsweek reported that data from OVD-Info showed that over 5,000 Russian protesters were arrested in just four days following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The number of protesters arrested comes as a recent poll released by jailed Kremlin-opposition leader Alexei Navalny showed a rise in opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Navalny released the findings of a poll his organization, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which appeared to show a rise in Russian opposition to the ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

According to the poll, the number of poll respondents who said that Russia was the "aggressor" in the conflict from February 25 to March 3 has nearly doubled, increasing from 29 percent to 53 percent. The poll also found that the share of those who said that Russia was the "peace-maker" in the situation decreased from 25 percent to 12 percent over the past several days.

Additionally, the poll found that an increasing number of respondents said that Russia was "guilty" in the conflict with Ukraine. According to the poll, 14 percent of respondents said that Russia was "guilty" on February 25 but on March 3, the poll found this number increasing to 36 percent.

"The nature of these changes is plain and unambiguous: People rapidly begin to realize who is responsible for initiating the conflict, as well as the war's true objectives and possible outcomes," Navalny wrote. "The anti-war momentum will keep growing across the society, so the anti-war protests should not be halted under any circumstances."

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, protests have sparked against the conflict in Russia, as well as a number of other countries. In response to the protests in Russia, the country's Investigative Committee issued a statement on February 25, warning citizens that organizing or participating in illegal protests could result in arrest.

"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.

Newsweek reached out to the Investigative Committee of Russia for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Russia Protests
Over 13,000 protesters have been arrested in Russia as opposition to the Ukraine invasion grows. Above, people carry banners and posters, some denouncing Russia's invasion of the Ukraine, as they attend a rally to mark the International Women's Day in Bishkek on March 8. VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/Getty