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No To War: How Some Russians Are Protesting The Russian Invasion Of Ukraine 

A sign hung on a bridge in St. Petersburg says, "No to war."

One woman stood quietly just a few meters from a corner of the Kremlin with a paper sign reading "No to war." She lasted just a few minutes before riot police trundled her off to a waiting van.

Then there was the man who held up a sign that had asterisks written in places where the letters for the words "No to war" would be. He also lasted just a few minutes outside the Kremlin walls before being detained.

Or the woman who was arrested after she stood in front of Moscow's Christ The Church Cathedral holding a sign with the biblical Sixth Commandment written on it: "Thou shalt not kill."

Civil disobedience has never been a simple matter in Russia.

In recent years, opposition groups and smaller political parties have managed to turn out protesters, and not just in Moscow and St. Petersburg. When the Kremlin moved to overhaul the national pension system in 2018, sizable numbers of Russians took to the streets in opposition.

Anti-corruption crusader Aleksei Navalny and his team consistently brought supporters out, braving police beatings and other repressive measures. And then Navalny was arrested and thrown in prison, and his budding political movement crushed.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Russian authorities have moved further to wipe out any dissenting voices, any effort at civil disobedience, and any public criticism not just of the war, but also of the military and the government's conduct.

Still, some Russians are resisting, and showing opposition to the conflict. OVD-Info, a Russian NGO that has tracked police arrests for years, has tallied dozens of incidents.

Here's a look at some of them:

Bloody Sunday

Yevgenia Isayeva, а St. Petersburg artist and activist, donned a white dress and stood outside the city council building on busy Nevsky Prospekt.

She then poured red paint on herself and a canvas draped in front of her, while chanting "my heart bleeds." The canvas in front of her contained an appeal to passersby not to support the war in Ukraine.

Russian Artist Doused In Fake Blood Protests Against War
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Her demonstration on March 27 lasted about seven minutes before she was detained by police.

The local news outlet Fontanka also reported that a retiree who was standing nearby was accosted by police because she was carrying a copy of the independent newspaper Novaya gazeta. She was not detained.

Deployment Incommunicado

The issue of where soldiers are being deployed -- both conscripts and volunteer, contract soldiers -- has become a sensitive issue within Russia, with members of some units saying they are given no information or even lied to outright.

On March 20, in the southern Russian region of Karachai-Cherkessia, six women blocked traffic across a bridge in a remote village, demanding the authorities provide information about relatives who had been deployed to Ukraine.

According to journalists, the protesters demanded information about contract soldiers who were sent to Ukraine, after which they stopped communicating.

The women were detained on charges of holding an unauthorized political demonstration.

'En Guarde'

In addition to regular armed forces and similar military units, there are also militarized civilian units being deployed to Ukraine, in particular members of Russia's National Guard.

Russian guardsmen are ostensibly a heavily armed police force, which was set up in 2016 under the leadership of a former Putin bodyguard and tasked with ensuring domestic security. However, some guard units have been sent to Ukraine in recent weeks, and that has prompted pushback.

A group of 12 guardsmen from the southern region of Krasnodar who had been deployed to the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula in February were ordered into mainland Ukraine but refused to go, arguing that such a deployment was illegal.

A lawyer, Mikhail Benyash, said the group was dismissed for disobeying orders, and later appealed the dismissal order. Benyash said that after the news of the firing became public, he received scores of other requests for help from other guardsmen who have refused orders to deploy to Ukraine.

Tula Graffiti

In Tula, a city south of Moscow, anti-war graffiti has appeared on the walls of buildings at least three times since the war began on February 24.

On March 27, police arrested two 28-year-old men and charged them in connection with the graffiti, which said "Overthrow Putin!" and "Stop Putin!"

OVD-Info reported that a third Tula resident had been arrested several days before, charged in connection with other anti-war graffiti that said, "War is a requiem for common sense."

Meanwhile, in the Ivanovo region, northeast of Tula, an activist was also arrested for anti-war graffiti, though it was unclear what, and where, the man had written.

Classroom 'Treason'

On the Pacific island of Sakhalin, a classroom teacher spoke out against the Russian invasion in remarks to her students at School No. 6 in the port city of Korsakov. Marina Dubrova, who teaches English, said she did not support the war in the comments on March 17.

Dubrova's students videotaped her remarks, school authorities learned of it, and she was arrested.

A court later fined her 30,000 rubles ($350) under newly passed legislation that makes it a crime to make public actions aimed at discrediting the Russian armed forces. That also includes calling for the armed forces to be withdrawn or to halt fighting.

Dubrova was not fired but was reprimanded by her superiors.

Channel One

The act of civil disobedience that has arguably resonated most widely took place on March 14, on the flagship nightly news program broadcast on state-run TV, Channel One, which is watched by millions of Russians.

Marina Ovsyannikova, a news editor at the channel, ran onto the set behind the host of the Vremya program holding a poster reading "NO WAR" in English and "Stop the war. Don't believe propaganda. They are lying to you" in Russian. The bottom line of the poster said "Russians against war" in English.

Russian TV News Hit By Anti-War Protest In Studio
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She also shouted in Russian: "Stop the war. No to war."

She was visible on screen for several seconds, before the channel switched to a different report.

Shortly after the incident, a Moscow court fined Ovsyannikova 30,000 rubles for attempting to organize an unsanctioned protest. On March 25, the court said she could be fined up to 50,000 rubles (more than $500) if found guilty of discrediting the armed forces, the same charge Dubrova faced.

The channel's media manager called Ovsyannikova a traitor.

Written by Mike Eckel based on reporting by Caucasus.Realities and Current Time, with contributions from RFE/RL's Russian Service