After Invading Ukraine, Russia Declares War on Its Citizens Global Voices Français

Screenshot from CBC Radio Canada Youtube channel video, residents of St. Petersburg are waiting in a full train station. Olga, leaving for Spain said, “The situation could become more serious at any time. I’m really scared.

Since the beginning of the Russian war in Ukraine, more … than 7,000 people have been arrested for anti-war protests across Russia. As hundreds of Western companies continue to pull out of the country and Moscow remains isolated from the global economy, The Russians are fleeing the country.

More than 40 countries have close their airspace to Russian aircraft, limiting escape options to Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East. To prevent dissent at home, Moscow has also begun pursuing opposition at an unprecedented rate, threatening media and journalists with the prison.

Draconian punishments and social persecution make it increasingly dangerous to speak out against official government discourse. As the state becomes more vulnerable and rumors of impending martial law aboundthe Russian government has declared war on its own citizens.

media war

Foreign social media platforms were the first to feel restrictions. On February 25, Moscow partially restricted access to Facebook. On March 5, Roskomnadzor, the Russian communications regulator, totally forbidden access to facebook Across the country. Access to Twitter has also been reducedafter the network restricted Russia Today and Sputnik, Russia’s state media channels.

On the same day, the State Duma adopted unanimously a resolution punishing “fake news” inside the country. An individual who disseminates information not officially released by the government about the Russian military, the “special operation” in Ukraine, or calls for sanctions, can face up to 15 years in prison. The Duma provided several examples serious misinformation that should be punished, including the sharing of “tampered” photos of burned military equipment, reports of attacks on civilians and estimates of Russian military casualties.

Fake news law follows Russia’s 2019 restrictions on media reporting “disrespecting the government,“even though the sentence three years ago was much lighter. Those who disseminated “unreliable” information about government officials and disrupted social order faced fines of up to 1.5 million rubles (US$22,900) and 15 days in jail.

As a result, access to foreign media has been severely curtailed. Following a request from prosecutors, Roskomnadzor “limited” access to Meduza, BBC, Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Europe. Therefore, Bloomberg, the Guardian and the BBC have suspended the work of their journalists in the country. The International Association of Investigative Journalists OCCRP was also placed on the list of “undesirable organizations”.

Critical national media across Russia have been mostly silenced. Ekho Moskvy,, The Village,, Dozdh, Tomsk’s TV 2, and much moreto have stop their activities under heavy pressure and the threat of legal action. Znak cited “the large number of restrictions that have recently appeared affecting the work of the media in Russia” for its closure.

Those who have not closed are harassed in person. The offices of the Pskovskaya Guberniya newspaper were attacked the morning of March 5; the website of the publication has been locked Therefore

Outlets that have not yet been closed are required to remove items and report only official state dispatches. Twelve national publications announced they will cease all coverage of the war, including The Bell, VPost and The Blueprint. Novaya Gazeta, recipient of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Journalism, deleted most articles about the war.

War against the people

State-sanctioned polls report that most Russians are in favor of “special operations” in Ukraine. The results note that residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg, especially among young people, have the strongest feelings. Given the escalation of repression across the country, many have questioned on the validity such polls.

On March 1, two mothers of five children were arrested for laying flowers outside the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow. The mothers were both loaded for non-fulfilment of parental duties and violation of the orders of a public event.

Hundreds of people are detained daily in the context of anti-war demonstrations or political opposition. The font is search and stop people across the country for anything from displaying Ukrainian flags to posts about anti-war protests on social media.

Moscow authorities documented all Ukraine-related social media posts and used facial recognition software “Sphere” identify and detain people who take public transport. Since its launch on September 1, 2020, more than 2,788 people have been arrested getting on the subway. Since February 24, the police used “Sphere” to detain Muscovites who have publicly expressed anti-war sentiments.

The authorities are placing all opposition groups under heightened surveillance. Supporters of opposition leader Alexandre Navalny are receive arrest warnings floors in anticipation of a large-scale organization. On the morning of March 6, special forces searched the offices by Vladimir Arzhanov and Ekaterina Aleksandrova, assistants to the independent deputies of the Novosibirsk city council.

Human rights organizations across Russia are also targeted. The offices of Memorial, Russia’s oldest human rights organization which records crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Soviet Union, were attacked March 4. The authorities have also raided the offices of Civic Assistance, a Moscow-based organization assisting migrants in Russia.

The ministries are also launching an organized information campaign in Russian schools. From March 1, special lessons entitled “My country” were distributed for immediate release for students in grades 6-11. Vkontakte reports noted, “Students received information about why our president and the government were forced to send troops to the territory of Ukraine, that this is not a war, but a special peacekeeping operation, the purpose of which is to protect the population of the peoples of Donetsk and Lugansk Republics and deter nationalists who threaten the Russian population.

On March 3, the Russian Ministry of Education organized “Defenders of Peace” courses for all Russian schools. The lessons are part of the federal project of the State Institute of Education “Patriotic Education of Citizens of the Russian Federation”. The show, hosted by 12-year-old singer Sofia Khomenko, argue that Ukrainians and Russians are one people, Westerners have tried to divide and conquer Eastern Europe, America has committed the most war crimes in the past 70 years, NATO has betrayed Russia and the Nazis completely infiltrated the Ukrainian government.

Domestic flights to central and southern Russia have been suspended until March 14. Flights no longer land in cities near the southern border of Russia: the cities of Anapa, Belgorod, Bryansk, Voronezh, Gelendzhik, Krasnodar, Kursk, Lipetsk, Rostov-on-Don, Simferopol and Elista.

Russian border agents submitted those who attempt to leave the country are subjected to lengthy interrogations, searches and threats. People are asked about their attitude towards the president, the war in Ukraine, the purpose and duration of their trip.

Many personalities have been fired from their jobs for anti-war statements. Ekaterina Dolinina, director of the Polet and Zvezda cinemas, was forced to submit a letter of resignation because she signed an open letter opposing the war on February 26.

Russia is already facing food shortages. Major supermarket chains impose temporary restrictions on all purchases. The X5 group which manages the chain stores Pyaterochka, Perekrestok, Karusel and Chizhik declared, “In order to ensure that essential products are constantly available, the company’s retail chains and the online hypermarket Perekrestok limit large volume purchases of certain products.” The war in Ukraine is expected to cause a global food shortage.

Thousands of men across Russia received subpoenas military registration and enlistment offices. The letters, phone calls and emails come in the middle of President Vladimir Putin’s speech. Decree of February 18 calling on all reserve personnel to undergo military training.

The central bank has forbidden transfers of more than USD 5,000 to relatives abroad. The decree follows that of Vladimir Putin to forbid on all currency transfers to non-residents abroad, credits to foreign bank accounts and transfers via international electronic payment service providers.

The State Duma has expressed a desire for tougher sanctions. On March 3, the Liberal Democratic Party proposed a bill to send people detained at anti-war rallies to military service in Donbass and Lugansk. Vladimir Putin’s press secretary rejected the idea of ​​enlisting the participants in the demonstrations.

Lawsuits by the Russian government against its own citizens will continue to escalate. As the nation becomes increasingly isolated internationally, the voices of those within will ring increasingly hollow. Anyone able to organize a vigorous opposition was either imprisoned or exiled. Those with a semblance of anti-war sentiments are hunted down, detained and threatened with silence. Vladimir Putin occupies the Ukrainians as much as the Russians.

For more information on this, see our special feature Russia invades Ukraine.