Russian children were among the thousands detained amid anti-war protests in several cities across the country happening in response to the invasion of Ukraine that’s continuing for a seventh day Wednesday.
Alexandra Arkhipova, a professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow who is currently the senior research fellow at the Washington-D.C.-based Wilson Center, shared several photos on Facebook purportedly showing young children detained at a police station in Moscow.
According to her post, two Russian women, Ekaterina Zavizion and her friend, Olga Alter, and their combined five children were detained while laying flowed at the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow.
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The children, boy and girls between the ages of 7 and 11, were photographed still holding their hand drawn “No War” posters while behind bars in an armored police van.
The mothers and their children were then transported to the Presnenskoye police station, where officers confiscated their phones and shouted that the mothers could lose their parental rights and the children could be placed in the custody of the Russian version of Child Protective Services, according to Arkhipova.
Ilya Yashin, a Russian opposition politician, also tweeted the same photos of the detained children seen corralled into the police station and then sitting at a processing desk at the police station.
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“Nothing out of the ordinary: just kids in paddy wagons behind an anti-war poster,” he tweeted Tuesday. “This is Putin’s Russia, folks. You live here.”
Yashin, whose Krasnoselsky District deputies have publicly supported the domestic anti-war movement and condemned President Vladmir Putin’s invasion of the sovereign Ukrainian state, criticized the regime for equating children drawing anti-war posters as an equivalent to extremism.
The Moscow Times also reported about the incident. Arkhipova provided an update hours later that the women and children had been released, and the mothers were seeking a human rights lawyer amid possible fines and criminal charges pending in the local court system.
At least 7,398 people have been detained in connection to anti-war protests in Russia since Feb. 24, according to the most recent count Wednesday by OVD-Info, an independent human rights media project dedicated to political persecution in Russia.
The count does not disclose how many were children.
Crowds have continued to take to the streets of Moscow, the historic capital of St. Petersburg and other towns despite mass arrests as the Russia-Ukraine war waged on for a seventh day.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has urged the people of his country to stage daily protests and calls President Vladimir Putin an “obviously insane czar” for his invasion of Ukraine.
In a long series of tweets posted Wednesday by his spokesman, Navalny called for his people to avoid turning into a “nation of frightened silent people” and instead “fight for peace.”
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“I call on everyone to take to the streets and fight for peace,” he wrote. “Putin is not Russia. And if there is anything in Russia right now that you can be most proud of, it is those 6,824 people who were detained because – without any call – they took to the streets with placards saying ‘No War’.”
Russian state media admitted Wednesday that at least nearly 500 Russian troops have been killed.
WHD News’ Peter Aiken contributed to this report.