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Thousands of people turned out to protest on Sunday against Russia’s war in Ukraine, in parts of the country occupied by Moscow’s forces, as well as throughout Russia and Germany.
In the Ukrainian city of Kherson, thousands of people headed to the city centre in a show of anger at Russia’s occupation, according to local media.
Crowds could be seen waving Ukrainian flags in photos and videos published by the Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper. They demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops, chanting “Home!” and “Kherson is Ukrainian.”
Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia was preparing a pseudo-referendum in order to establish a pro-Moscow People’s Republic.
Russian forces have now banned demonstrations in the Ukrainian city of Melitopol after repeated protests by locals, and a curfew has been imposed.
In Russia, where coverage of the war is highly restricted, 800 people were arrested for demonstrating against the conflict, according to civil rights activists.
In total, demonstrators took to the streets in more than 35 cities on Sunday, the OVD-Info organization announced in the evening.
The Russian Interior Ministry had confirmed around 300 arrests at an unauthorized protest in the capital Moscow, where demonstrations remain banned under pandemic restrictions.
OVD-Info says at least 14,000 people have been detained in the crackdown on free speech following Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine on February 24. Pictures and videos on social media showed people being dragged away by police officers in riot gear.
Protests were held in 21 cities, from Vladivostok in the east to Irkutsk on Lake Baikal and the Siberian city of Tomsk.
In the capital Moscow, a popular tourist square right next to the Kremlin was widely cordoned off with metal grids, a dpa correspondent reported.
Hundreds of offices of the OMON special police unit were on standby, some wearing bulletproof vests and helmets, in case new protests broke out.
Armed men could also be seen in front of the State Duma, while many prisoner transport vehicles stood ready. Protests were also held beyond Russia and Ukraine. In Berlin, 60,000 people gathered at the city’s central square Alexanderplatz at midday and then walked towards Brandenburg Gate.
Attendees ranged from young to old and included families with young children.
Some carried blue and yellow balloons while others held banners saying “Stop War,” “Peace,” and “Where’s the vaccine against war?” Others could be seen with insults directed at Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Another 65,000 marched in other German cities such as Stuttgart, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Leipzig.
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