MOSCOW— Russian opposition supporters took to Moscow’s streets on Sunday to defend press freedom they allege is being replaced by government propaganda. It's a direct connection, they say, to the worsening situation in eastern Ukraine.
The air was alternately sad, angry and jubilant as activists turned out to “Rally for Truth.” In a concert-like setting, activists condemned the shutdown of Russian independent media outlets, and decried their Kremlin-linked colleagues whom they hold directly responsible for manipulating the population into supporting what they consider to be contemptible military action in Ukraine.
Muscovite Ekaterina, dressed in Ukrainian attire, who recently returned from Kyiv’s Maidan square, had strong words about the mainstream press in Russia.
She said the nation is being turned into zombies by lies in the press.
Among the speakers at the rally attended by about 5,000 people, was Andrei Zubov, an esteemed professor fired for his dissenting opinion on Ukraine. Zubov lambasted the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine cities of Slavyansk and Mariupol, where dozens are reported injured.
When words designate the opposite of their true meaning, Zubov said, it’s a sign of certain doom.
Zubov warned against believing the Russian press’ version of events.
In Kyiv, Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov threatened to launch what he called a "full-scale anti-terrorist operation" against those who have taken over buildings in eastern Ukraine. Interfax reported that a battalion of 350 troops had been mobilized to the region.
Back in Moscow, Bella, whose father is a Ukrainian from Donetsk, was worried about what could happen to her relatives there.
Bella said she is afraid her father’s hometown will turn to radioactive dust, as Russian media pundit and Kremlin loyalist Dmitry Kislelev once opined. Kislelev was one of the rally-goers' targets for his ‘propagandistic’ views.
In addition to misinformation, system administrator Yevgeny, who calls himself an anarchist, said a lack of information is another problem. Yevgeny said he dislikes the latest trend for blocking access to independent media websites.
As the situation becomes convoluted and murky, Muscovites, Russians, Ukrainians and the rest of the world wait for any information that could stave off the war that seems inevitable.