Upheaval in Russia. Anti-war ‘flower protests’ spread to 60 cities

Lee Heidhues 2.4.2023

It is nearly one year since Vladimir Putin unleashed his vicious assault on Ukraine.

A demonstrator holds a sign depicting the Russian president as Adolf Hitler and reading “Stop Putin” during a protest against Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, in Barcelona on February 26, 2022. – The Kremlin said on February 25, 2022 Russia’s President was ready to send a delegation to Belarus for talks with Ukraine, as Russian forces approached Kyiv on the second day of Moscow’s invasion. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

As the days, weeks, months pass by the Ukrainian people continue to suffer and die under this brutal attack on an independent nation.

Inside Russia a few courageous citizens – in the face of suppression, arrest and prison – are standing up to Putin and his ongoing war of aggression.

Excerpted from The Moscow Times 2.4.2023

Russians continue to memorialize the dozens of Ukrainians killed in last month’s Russian missile strike on the city of Dnipro — one of the deadliest single incidents of Moscow’s invasion — in what has evolved into a new nationwide form of anti-war protest. 

Makeshift displays of flowers, stuffed toys and handwritten notes have sprung up in at least 60 cities across Russia, often by statues of Ukrainian poets Taras Shevchenko and Lesya Ukrainka — or by monuments to victims of Soviet-era political repression.

“It’s a statement against the war, not just mourning for the dead people in Dnipro,” said one woman who laid flowers at a memorial in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.

“I couldn’t stay silent,” she told The Moscow Times in an anonymous interview conducted with the aid of youth opposition movement Vesna. 

Images of the destroyed apartment block, civilian casualties and desperate rescue attempts in the aftermath of the Jan. 14 strike in Dnipro served as a shocking reminder of the devastation caused by the Ukraine war and evoked anger and shame among some Russians. 

The ongoing tributes to victims of the Dnipro attack are the first nationwide anti-war protests since demonstrations against the country’s “partial” mobilization in September.

They have even earned their own name: “flower protests.”

Almost three weeks after the deaths in Dnipro, new memorials continue to appear. 

Russians bravely take to the streets of Moscow to protest Putin’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine

“I decided to lay flowers at a local memorial to show that not all Russians lack compassion toward Ukrainians,” said a man from the Khanty-Mansiisk autonomous district in another anonymous interview conducted via Vesna.

“I was thinking about the Dnipro attack victims and what it must have been like to be under the rubble.”


Top photo – The aftermath of the Russian missile attack on Dnipro on Jan. 14.