Russia: Anti-war protests grow as thousands sign letter to Putin
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Vladimir Putin’s hopes for unquestioned support to his “special operation” in Ukraine did not manifest as protests have taken place across Russia despite police crackdown. Professionals, including his own MPs, have been challenging the Russian leader’s strategy, penning letters of dissent and openly signing them. DW reporter Peter Craven said: “Various professional groups have been expressing their anger in letters to Vladimir Putin.
“Doctors, teachers, and scientists are saying no to the war. Thousands of people are signing each letter.
“Even among the members of Parliament loyal to Putin, disaffection is growing.
“Mikhail Matveed followed his conscience when voting to recognise Ukraine’s breakaway regions as independent people’s republics but when the invasion started, he was shocked.”
Mr Matveed, a member of Vladimir Putin’s Communist Party, insisted he did not back plans for war but just wanted Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions to be given the chance to become independent.
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He said: “As a member of Parliament, I voted for peace, not for war.
But obviously, those in Russia who were in favour of going to war decided not to wait and see how events would unfold.
“It’s a shame the status of the new republics was never really put to the test.”
Putin last week launched his latest bid to crack down on freedom of expression and the press, pushing through the Duma a new law leaving Russians facing up to 15 years in prison if they spread information deemed to be “fake” about what Moscow continues to call a “special operation” rather than a war.
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Nobel Prize winner and pro-democracy Novaya Gazeta founder Dmitry Muratov questioned his compatriots’ support for the invasion.
Mr Muratov said: “Russia’s leadership wants more because dictators always want more.
“But the Russian people don’t want more and so, with the start, the leadership lost their legitimacy.”
According to Ukraine’s defence forces, Russia lost over 10,000 troops since the start of the war on February 24.
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Videos have emerged online purportedly showing Russian soldiers captured by Ukrainian forces claiming they had not been told they would be sent to Ukraine to fight.
President Volodymyr Zelensky repeatedly appealed to Putin to withdraw his troops, suggesting their unpreparedness was the result of many of them being too young to fight.
President Zelensky said: “We need to stop the war and restore peace as soon as possible.
“These are not warriors of a superpower.
“These are confused children who have been used.
“Take them home.”
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