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Russian citizens, growing frustrated with Putin, are taking to the streets


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Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader, calls on Russian President Vladimir Putin to step it up in Ukraine.  

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko warns of Ukraine becoming a “meat grinder” in a couple days’ time.  

Putin himself asks his Defense Minister and Chief of General Staff on the occasion of “Special Forces Day” to put his “strategic forces” (read: nuclear weapons) in the status of “combat readiness.”

RUSSIA INVASION OF UKRAINE LIVE UPDATES

Russian opposition figure in exile Mikhail Khodorkovsky via Instagram implores Russians — against the background of these comments — to take to the streets.

Police officers detain a demonstrator as people gather in front of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021.

Police officers detain a demonstrator as people gather in front of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021.
(AP Photo)

They are taking to the streets, but they get pushed back or arrested nearly as quickly as they come out. Protests are illegal. Police are out in numbers looking for rule breakers. According to reports, 1,500 had been arrested across Russia by sundown on Sunday.

One woman in Yekaterinburg said she had taken to the streets because she was so upset.

“And I am especially upset,” she said, “because the aggressor is my country. In war, the one who starts it is guilty. And I am guilty. I voted for this government. I didn’t actually vote for Putin but I couldn’t do anything.”

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Outbursts like that, from conversations and social media posts, are representative of how many Russians feel inside.

Vladimir President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine only eight months after TIME magazine billed President Biden as ready to take on the Russian leader. 

Vladimir President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine only eight months after TIME magazine billed President Biden as ready to take on the Russian leader. 
(Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

But many people are afraid to comment frankly, either way. Weighing in on one side or the other involves risk. A lot of others prefer to just put their heads in the sand. It is too much to bear.

Social media, for now, is the forum of choice for commentary. 

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The Gorbachev Foundation put out a statement that read, in part, “We declare the need for an early cessation of hostilities and the immediate start of peace negotiations. There is and cannot be anything more valuable in the world than human lives. Only negotiations and dialogue based on mutual respect and consideration of interests are the only possible way to resolve the most acute contradictions and problems.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talks during a press conference at the Ukraine's embassy in Paris on April 16, 2021,  theafter a working lunch with French president.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talks during a press conference at the Ukraine’s embassy in Paris on April 16, 2021,  theafter a working lunch with French president.
(Photo by BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images)

The language of the man who brought us “glasnost” must have a lot more to say than that. Even while inviting the Ukrainians to talk in Belarus, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko continued with harsh rhetoric. 

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He said: “What’s going on now is a bed of roses. If it continues like this it will bloom.  And there will be no bunker (for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy) to hide in–not with the Americans not with anyone else. I wouldn’t call this a war yet, it’s a conflict. In a day or two it will be a war.”



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