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Russia Arrests Over 5,000 in Single Day for Protesting Ukraine War  


Police detain a demonstrator during an action against Russia's attack on Ukraine in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Russia detained more than 5,000 people protesting President Vladimir Putin's attack on Ukraine in dozens of cities Sunday — an unprecedented number as Moscow clamps down on anyone opposing the Kremlin's military assault on the country.

OVD-info, which monitors arrests during protests, said police had detained at least 5,016 people in 60 cities during the anti-war protests.

That is an unprecedented number for a single day and far higher than arrests made during a wave of protests that broke out in the country last year when opposition leader Alexei Navalny was imprisoned.

Navalny has called on Russians to protest the war in an appeal from his prison cell.

Protesters risk possible prison sentences by taking to the streets.

OVD-info said 2,394 had been arrested in Moscow. Saint Petersburg saw at least 1,253 arrests, the monitor said.

An iPhone screen shows a Telegram account of OVD-Info, a prominent legal aid group in Russia that tracks political arrests in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021. A Russian organization that tracks political arrests and provides legal aid to detainees says government regulators have blocked its website. OVD-Info said in a tweet on Saturday that it wasn't formally notified about the action by Russia's internet and communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
An iPhone screen shows a Telegram account of OVD-Info, a prominent legal aid group in Russia that tracks political arrests in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021. A Russian organization that tracks political arrests and provides legal aid to detainees says government regulators have blocked its website. OVD-Info said in a tweet on Saturday that it wasn't formally notified about the action by Russia's internet and communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Protests also took place in small cities in the Russian regions. Several activists posted videos of violent arrests on social media.

OVD-info said police had used electric shockers on protesters.

Anti-war protests in Russia have continued despite warnings from authorities and risks of prison sentences.

Police detain a demonstrator during an action against Russia's attack on Ukraine in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. Protests against the Russian invasion of Ukraine resumed on Saturday evening, with people taking to the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg for the third straight day despite mass arrests. OVD-Info rights group reported that at least 325 people were detained in 26 Russian cities on Saturday in antiwar protests, nearly half of them in Moscow.(AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Police detain a demonstrator during an action against Russia's attack on Ukraine in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. Protests against the Russian invasion of Ukraine resumed on Saturday evening, with people taking to the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg for the third straight day despite mass arrests. OVD-Info rights group reported that at least 325 people were detained in 26 Russian cities on Saturday in antiwar protests, nearly half of them in Moscow.(AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

To further stifle criticism, Putin on Friday signed into law a bill that introduces jail terms of up to 15 years for fake news about the Russian army.

The bill stipulates jail terms of varying lengths and fines against people who publish "knowingly false information" about the military, with harsher penalties to hit when dissemination is deemed to have serious consequences.

Putin also signed a bill that would allow fines or jail terms of up to three years for calling for sanctions against Russia with Moscow facing harsh economic penalties from Western capitals over the invasion.

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