President Vladimir Putin announced military operations against Ukraine in a public address to the nation.
The authorities also arrested at least two human rights defenders who spoke up against Russia’s full-scale invasion in Ukraine, threatened to block mass media outlets in case their reporting on the war differed from the official narrative, and demanded that foreign social media platforms stop restricting reports from Russian state media.
In the early morning of February 24, President Vladimir Putin announced military operations against Ukraine in a public address to the nation, and soon after the broadcast of his speech, Russian armed forces began air and ground attacks on multiple military installations across Ukraine.
As hostilities have continued there have been credible reports of use of cluster munitions by Russian forces causing civilian fatalities and injuries, and damage to civilian objects such as schools and hospitals, Human Rights Watch reports.
“For years, Russian authorities have been suppressing free speech and peaceful protests to stifle critical voices,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Now the government is silencing all those who speak out against the war with Ukraine.”
According to OVD-Info, an independent human rights project working to protect freedom of assembly in Russia, by the evening of February 25, police had detained at least 1,858 people for participation in anti-war protests in 57 cities, including Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Krasnodar, Ekaterinburg, Saratov, Nizhny Novgorod, and Voronezh.
Some of the detained protesters stood in single pickets and held posters saying “no to war, do not be silent,” “stop the war,” and other similar slogans.
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