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Russian rights activist launches anti-war movement, petition collects more than 1M signatures!

“We appeal to all sane people in Russia, on whose actions and words something depends. Become part of the anti-war movement, oppose the war. "

Tuesday 1 March 2022, by siawi3


Russian rights activist launches anti-war movement, petition collects more than 1M signatures!

Saturday 26 February 2022,

by Charles JAY

A prominent Russian human rights activist has formed a new movement calling itself “Russians against war with Ukraine,” and more than 1 million people have already signed the group’s petition since it was posted Thursday on The response to the petition and large protests throughout Russia indicate that Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has had unexpected consequences by reviving the Russian opposition movement.

The petition was launched by Lev Ponomaryov, a parliament deputy in the 1990s who later led the group For Human Rights. He had to dissolve the group last year after the Russian government introduced new laws that labeled him a “foreign agent” for receiving donations from abroad.

On Saturday, Ponomaryov added a new message to the petition page. It read: “No to war. 750,000 have signed in two days. Tomorrow a million? … Right now a civil anti-war movement is springing up all over Russia.”

The text of the appeal reads:

“Putin ordered the start of a military operation against Ukraine, despite the terrible price that both Ukraine and Russia will undoubtedly pay for this war, despite all the voices of reason that sounded in Russia and beyond.

Official Russian rhetoric claims that this is done in `self-defense.’ But history cannot be fooled. The burning of the Reichstag was exposed, and today exposures are not required — everything is obvious from the very beginning.”

The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the house of the German parliament that took place on Feb. 27, 1933, just four weeks after Adolf Hitler had been sworn in as chancellor of Germany. The Nazi regime blamed the fire on communist agitators and used it as a pretext to make mass arrests and suspend most civil liberties.

Ponomaryov’s petition then announced the formation of the anti-war movement in Russia, and called for peaceful forms of protests. It demanded an immediate cease-fire by Russian Armed Forces and their immediate withdrawal from Ukraine. It added that those responsible for starting hostilities in Ukraine should be considered “war criminals” and held “accountable for their deeds. May they be damned!”

The petition concluded:

“We appeal to all sane people in Russia, on whose actions and words something depends. Become part of the anti-war movement, oppose the war. Do this if only to show the whole world that there were, are and will be people in Russia who will not accept the meanness perpetrated by the authorities, who have turned the very state and peoples of Russia into an instrument of their crimes.”

Most of the signatories appeared to have Russian names. Some people added their reasons for signing the petition. A man identifying himself as Maxim Klishin wrote: “I’m subscribing because I want to … live a normal life and I want all people to live. … You can’t let the war go on, you can’t let people kill each other. It will lead to nothing but pain, suffering, death and guilt that cannot be redeemed.”

Another signatory, identifying herself as Elena Mikrina, simply wrote: “This war is not in my name.”

Since Thursday, anti-war protests have taken place in cities across Russia, with at least 5,250 people arrested, according to OVD-Info, a watchdog group which monitors arrests at protests. That included 2,116 people arrested at anti-war protests in 45 cities on Sunday amid massive security force deployments in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk.

Protesters held signs that read “No to war,” “Russians go home” and “Peace to Ukraine.”

“I am against war. I was born in 1941 and I know what it means,” said Valeria Andreyeva, born in the year Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, according to The Moscow Times.

Russians turned out to protest despite the government’s efforts to smash organized opposition groups and the jailing of de facto opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who nearly died after being poisoned with a nerve agent in August 2020.

On Friday I posted a diary with a video message from 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Dmitry Muratov, editor of the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, headlined “No to War.”

The newspaper has published several more strongly worded opinion columns that are worth reading.

In a column titled “Why did it become possible: Requiem for the Russian state,” Leonid Gozman, the head of the public movement “Union of Right Forces, wrote: “This is an insult to our civic sensibilities. Today, our fellow citizens are dying and killing because we no longer have a state, but only a parody of it.”

Commentator Yulia Latynina wrote: “the world will simply be divided into the free world, where there is an economy, technology, science, and places like Iran or Russia, where there is only an official ideology about fighting enemies. The Iron Curtain descends over Russia with a clang. What part of Ukraine will remain free depends on the Ukrainian troops. But for Russia, I’m afraid it’s all over. And for a very long time.”

Novaya Gazeta also published a page full of comments from Russian musicians, artists, and directors opposing the war. Painter Dmitry Shagin wrote:

“This, of course, is a tragedy. In Russia, every second person has Ukrainian roots. For example, I have them. Therefore, I believe that killing Ukrainians is killing ourselves.”