Ukraine-Russia War: Live Updates and Video

SOCHI, Russia — Thousands of people took to the streets of Russian cities on Sunday to protest President Vladimir V Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, risking beatings and arrests.

Sunday’s protests followed similar anti-war demonstrations across the country, taking place every day in dozens of Russian cities since Russian troops crossed the Ukrainian border early Thursday morning. Demonstrators also demonstrated in cities around the world.

Many Russian protesters said they were baffled by Putin’s decision to send troops and heavy weaponry into what many in Russia consider a “fraternal nation.” Millions of Russians have relatives or friends in Ukrainian cities. Many grew up in Ukraine and cherish childhood memories of it.

At the protests, many people said they came to express their solidarity with the Ukrainian people and are confident that Putin’s decision will severely harm Russia.

Fyodor Gurov, for example, said he had never taken part in protests, but was shocked when he read the news on Thursday that Russia had attacked Ukraine, a country where his relatives live.

“I started to feel ashamed that I live in Russia,” Mr Gurov, 22, said on the phone from a police car in which he was being held.

On Sunday, Mr. Gurov said he appeared in front of the Russian Foreign Ministry building in central Moscow with a placard that read “No to war!” Shortly after he got there, the police arrested him and threatened to break his hand. As a flight attendant, Mr Gurov is also afraid of losing his job after European countries closed airspace to Russian flights.

In Moscow, crowds swept through the city center chanting “No to the war!” To make it harder for the police to arrest them, they tried not to focus on a single location. Still, police arrested more than 1,100 people in the Russian capital alone and more than 1,100 in other Russian cities accordingly OVD Info, a rights group that follows arrests at demonstrations in Russia.

Aside from arresting people at demonstrations, Russian authorities also said they would step up pressure in other areas. Government employees who signed letters and petitions against the war, for example, were threatened with dismissal.

Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office warned Russians on Sunday that providing loosely defined “assistance to a foreign organization or its representatives in activities directed against Russia’s security” could qualify as high treason, punishable by up to 20 years in prison can. Russia’s communications watchdog announced Friday it would partially restrict access to Facebook in retaliation for restricting some pro-Kremlin media accounts.

On Sunday, many Russians also came to a bridge opposite the Kremlin to lay flowers at the spot where Boris Nemtsov, a prominent Russian opposition politician, was brutally shot dead seven years ago. Throughout his political career, Mr. Nemtsov has spoken out against any form of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Some people who took part in the first wave of protests on Thursday could not go out again to avoid committing the same crime twice. Aleksei Kudasov, for example, was arrested on Thursday and later released, so he decided not to take the risk but said he was ready “to do anything to make this nightmare stop.”

Putin’s decision will “bring nothing but heartache to both sides of the conflict,” he said, adding that he will make donations to human rights organizations and help spread truthful information about the conflict.

“People shouldn’t spend their nights on the subway for the president of another country to move toy soldiers on a map,” said Mr Kudasov, 31, a copywriter. “Many of us have relatives and friends in Ukraine – attacking such a neighbor is an absolutely brutal decision.”

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