Protests have been taking place in Russia since Thursday as people take to the streets to voice their opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s military invasion of Ukraine.

Anti-war protesters are turning out in the thousands at cities throughout the country, including their capital, Moscow. Videos on social media show huge crowds of Russian citizens taking a very public stand against Putin’s action despite the threat of arrest.

Video footage from St. Petersburg showed protesters packed onto the main street of the city repeating chants such as “Ukraine is not our enemy” and “No war.” Those protests come not long after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky encouraged Russian citizens to oppose their leader’s aggression against his country.

Putin had previously stated that Russian citizens who participate in protests against the invasion will be arrested. The Investigative Committee of Russia warned that protesters could face jail time, writing: “The law provides for severe punishment for organizing mass riots, as well as for resisting law enforcement officers. According to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, people who committed such illegal acts may face imprisonment.”

So far, at least 1700 protesters have been arrested in Russia across more than 50 cities, and Russian police have forcibly removed anti-war protesters from Moscow streets. The rights group OVD-Info reports that the total number of people detained across the first four days of the invasion is nearly 6,000.

One man attending the St. Petersburg rally told The Associated Press: “I have two sons and I don’t want to give them to that bloody monster. War is a tragedy for all of us.”

Police decked out in full riot gear were seen grabbing protesters and dragging them into police vans at peaceful demonstrations in St. Petersburg. In Moscow, footage shows police throwing female protesters onto the ground and then dragging them way.

The Kremlin has been downplaying the protests and claiming that they only represent a small minority, maintaining that a much bigger proportion of Russians support invading Ukraine.

In addition to protesting in city streets, tens of thousands of Russians have signed petitions and open letters condemning the invasion. One online petition that was launched just hours after Putin announced the invasion attracted more than 930,000 signatures in just four days, making it one of the most widely supported petitions in the country in recent years.

Celebrities and TV personalities have also spoken out against the attack. In response, the speaker of the lower house of Russian parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, said that “certain cultural figures’” anti-war stances were “nothing short of a betrayal of your own people.”

Russians fear economic collapse due to sanctions

Many Russians fear that heavy sanctions will damage their economy significantly. People there have been withdrawing cash from banks and ATMs in droves, with reports of long lines and cash shortages throughout the nation. Data from Russia’s Central Bank indicates that Russians withdrew the equivalent of $1.3 billion in cash on Thursday alone.

The ruble has crashed to a record low against the U.S. dollar, and Russia’s central bank has doubled interest rates to 20 percent. There is widespread concern among Russian citizens that their way of life is ending, with many people also fearing they may be unable to leave the country or buy certain foreign products.

These sentiments are growing despite the best efforts of Russian censors; Russian state media has not been showing footage of Russian forces attacking Ukrainian cities and is describing the invasion as a “special military operation” in the Donbas region.

Social media has been the only way for Russians to find out what is really going on politically and financially, but the country’s internet regulator is doing its best to close these avenues as well. Russia has already restricted citizens’ access to Facebook and Twitter, making it more difficult for opponents to the invasion to voice their dissent.

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