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The Brave Russians Speaking Out Against the War
Ordinary citizens are showing remarkable courage in condemning their government’s actions. Here are some of their words.
The people of Ukraine are continuing their desperate fight for freedom. Much of the world’s attention has, for good reason, been focused on their bravery.
But as the world is rightly condemning the actions of Vladimir Putin and imposing serious sanctions on his criminal regime, it is also important to remember that he does not speak for the whole of the Russian people. Indeed, a large number of Russians has, at great personal risk, started to publicly oppose the war. Thousands have already been arrested for doing so.
Here is a compilation of a few of the brave voices—from academics to political leaders to ordinary citizens—who have been speaking out against Putin from within Russia.
Alexei Navalny: Everything Has a Price
We—Russia—want to be a nation of peace. Alas, few people would call us that now. [...]
I cannot, do not want to and will not remain silent watching how pseudo-historical nonsense about the events of 100 years ago has become an excuse for Russians to kill Ukrainians, and for Ukrainians to kill Russians while defending themselves.
Putin is not Russia. And if there is anything in Russia right now that you can be most proud of, it is those 6824 people who were detained because—without any call—they took to the streets with placards saying "No War". [...]
[W]e must, gritting our teeth and overcoming fear, come out and demand an end to the war. Each arrested person must be replaced by two newcomers. [...] Everything has a price, and now, in the spring of 2022, we must pay this price. There's no one to do it for us. Let's not "be against the war." Let's fight against the war.
Russian Citizens: We Will Not Be an Instrument of Russian Crimes
On the online petition website Change.org, human rights activist Lev Ponomarev initiated a Russian-language letter against the war. So far, over a million people have signed it:
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 deceived. The burning of the Reichstag was eventually exposed [as having been staged], but today no exposure is required—everything is obvious from the very beginning.
We, the supporters of peace, acting in the name of saving the lives of the citizens of Russia and Ukraine [...] demand an immediate ceasefire by the Russian Armed Forces and their immediate withdrawal from the territory of the sovereign state of Ukraine. We consider as war criminals all those who made the decision to start hostilities in the east of Ukraine, sanctioned aggressive and war-justifying propaganda in the Russian media dependent on authoritative power. We will seek to hold them accountable for their deeds.
We appeal to all sensible people in Russia, on whose actions and words the future depends. Become part of the anti-war movement, oppose the war. Do this at least to show the whole world that in Russia there were, are and will be people who will not accept the villainy perpetrated by the authorities, who have turned the very government and peoples of Russia into an instrument of their crimes.
Russian Scientists: Make Science, Not War
As of Friday morning, over 7,000 Russian scientists had signed a statement calling for an end to the invasion and defying the Kremlin’s dictate not to use the term “war”:
The responsibility for unleashing a new war in Europe lies entirely with Russia.
There is no rational justification for this war. [...] Ukraine has been and remains a country close to us. Many of us have relatives, friends, and colleagues living in Ukraine. Our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers fought together against Nazism, and unleashing a war for the sake of the geopolitical ambitions of the leadership of the Russian Federation, driven by dubious historiosophical fantasies, is a cynical betrayal of their memory. [...]
Having unleashed the war, Russia has doomed itself to international isolation. It has devolved into a pariah country. This means that we, Russian scientists and journalists, will no longer be able to do our job in a normal way because conducting scientific research is unthinkable without cooperation and trust with colleagues from other countries. The isolation of Russia from the world means cultural and technological degradation of our country with a complete lack of positive prospects. The war with Ukraine is a step to nowhere.
It is bitter to realize that our country, which has made a decisive contribution to the victory over Nazism, has now instigated a new war on the European continent. We demand an immediate halt to all military operations directed against Ukraine. We demand respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state. We demand peace for our countries.
(This is only a small selection of the many different statements and petitions against the war that are now circulating in Russia. A more complete list of dozens of similar letters from across all sectors of Russian society can be found here.)