Prominent Russians join protests against Ukraine war amid 1,800 arrests

Prominent Russians shocked by the invasion of Ukraine have gone public with their opposition to the war, despite the professional and personal risks that come with dissent on such a sensitive issue in Russia.

More than 1,800 people were arrested at rallies across the country on Thursday night as prominent Russians from the worlds of entertainment, business and journalism have risked their livelihoods in order to speak out.

When Elena Chernenko, the veteran diplomatic correspondent for Kommersant newspaper, found out that Russia was invading Ukraine, she said she was stunned.

“Of course, I was shocked … Until yesterday morning, I refused to believe that Russia could launch a massive military operation against Ukraine,” said Chernenko, who believed Russia may at most recognise the territories in south-east Ukraine.

“I thought that all the talk about invasions was awful hysteria. I argued with people on Twitter and in person that nothing would happen, it’s all thought up,” she said. “Maybe I don’t understand anything about Russian foreign policy anymore.”

After Putin announced the military operation, she penned an open letter condemning the attack on Ukraine. “War has never been and will never be a method of conflict resolution and there are no excuses for it,” she wrote. Nearly 300 journalists have signed, including representatives of state-run media.

An anti-war protest in Moscow
An anti-war protest in Moscow. Photograph: Daniil Danchenko/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

In retaliation, she revealed she has been expelled from the diplomatic pool, which she has covered for more than 11 years, for “unprofessionalism”.

Chernenko remains a strong critic of Ukraine’s policy toward the Donbas region, but said she could not justify the kind of military operation now unfolding.

“There was nothing complicated about it for me,” Chernenko said of her letter. “It was a spontaneous reaction. My country has started a military operation against another … but we’re for diplomacy,…

Read full story at the guardian.com

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