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Independence Day from Putinism: Russians rallied against the war in Ukraine in San Francisco and around the world

June 12, the date of the official celebration of the Day of Russia, thousands of Russians around the world held an alternative action – “Independence Day from Putinism”. According to the coordinators, it was attended by representatives of Russian-speaking diasporas from more than 35 countries of the world – from Australia to the United States, including most European states, several post-Soviet countries, Japan, South Korea and others.

Independence Day from Putinism: in San Francisco and beyond Russians rallied against the war in Ukraine all over the world

Photo: Ksenia Kirillova

In each city, the organizers themselves determined the agenda of the rally, but the common message of all the actions was a protest against Russian aggression in Ukraine, and a common symbol – a white-blue-white flag – a symbol of Russia without predatory imperial ambitions, expressed by a “bloody” red stripe. In the capital of Northern California, San Francisco, a guest unexpected for the majority of the audience took part in the rally – Lyubov Sobol, an ally of the opposition politician Alexey Navalny.

As Lyubov explained in a comment for ForumDaily, the main goal of such actions is to demonstrate that not all Russians are in solidarity with the aggressive policies of Vladimir Putin.

It is important to show that there are adequate, normal Russians who do not want war. It is necessary that the entire civilized world understand that not all Russians support Putin – this is absolutely not the case. People are protesting against the war both at home and abroad,” Sobol assures.

In her opinion, united, oppositional Russians from the diaspora are able to influence the governments of the countries in which they live, especially if these governments defiantly support “neutrality” or even cooperate with Putin’s Russia. Like the Ukrainians, the victims of organized repression can show by personal example why one should not hope for “appeasement of the aggressor.”

We see how the Ukrainian, Belarusian, Moldovan and other diasporas achieve impressive results. The Russians, unfortunately, are very atomized within the country, and therefore are less active abroad,” the politician complained. Lyubov Sobol urged compatriots not to be silent and to convey their position, including through the media of the countries where they live, including radio and television.

Independence Day from Putinism: Russians rallied against the war in Ukraine in San Francisco and around the world

Lyubov Sobol speaks at a rally in San Francisco. Photo: Ksenia Kirillova

Biologist from the University of California at San Francisco Pyotr Lidskylamented that Putin made adequate Russians feel both Germans and Jews during the Second World War. However, he is also sure that people who support dictatorship and war are only a part of society, carriers of a certain “Chekist” mentality.

Our trouble is that we did not destroy the KGB in due time. In 1992, the last KGB officer understood that communism had discredited itself, and even the views of the Chekists, I think, differed little from the majority at that time. But they retained their culture, and modern Russian fascism sprouted in this culture,” he is sure.

However, part of the audience is not so optimistic, and believes that Putin's support in Russia is higher than only among the “heirs of the KGB.” Emigrants draw these disappointing conclusions from communication with their own friends and relatives.

«Among my Russian acquaintances there are people who do not particularly support the war, but even they are biased towards the West. In conversations with me, they gloat about whether our gasoline has risen in price, and it is obvious that they repeat propaganda clichés. And that goes for people who try to be apolitical. Moreover, even here in the US, I have met people who are not related to the post-Soviet diaspora, but who support Putin. For example, I know a Greek who would like Greece to have a similar “leader” too. His speeches also often contain propaganda templates,” Mikhail Nikitin notes.

Independence Day from Putinism: Russians rallied against the war in Ukraine in San Francisco and around the world

Photo: Ksenia Kirillova

Anton Kalashnikov and his wife arrived in the US after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and also has no illusions about what is happening in the country. The young man faced problems back in 2021, after participating in rallies for the release of Alexei Navalny.

«When the data of people who had registered for these rallies was stolen, we began to receive personalized threats with promises of arrest for supporting an “extremist organization.” When we left the house, we saw the police – something like “surveillance,” he lists.

After the invasion began, many of Anton's friends began to leave, and some of the remaining ones are now facing criminal charges.

«But the majority, including our relatives and acquaintances, take a passive position, which ultimately leads to a tacit approval of the war. When I started to actively express the anti-war position on social networks, I was faced with the fact that 10-15% of people whom I know very well in their personal lives either unfollowed me or began to write me negative comments,” he admits . At the same time, Anton notes that even while in America, he would first of all want to do his best in order to influence the public opinion of those who remained in Russia.

Another participant in the rally, an immigrant from Ukraine Elena Avtukh , for its part, expressed great gratitude to the caring Russians.

«Every day I love you more and more, and I feel that I am here in order to later convey to the rest that you are, you are amazingly brave people, you have made great sacrifices, opposed the war. It is very important that this thread be maintained between us,” she emphasizes.

Independence Day from Putinism: Russians rally against war in Ukraine in San Francisco and around the world

Photo: Ksenia Kirillova

Being a native of the Dnieper, Elena always preferred to speak Russian, but with the beginning of the invasion, she tries to switch to Ukrainian out of solidarity with his people. At the same time, she emphasizes that no one oppressed Russian-speaking Ukrainians before the war, and the positive attitude towards Russians was so great that even after the start of Russian aggression in 2014, many Ukrainians in the first weeks of the war in Donbass could not overcome the psychological barrier and shoot Russians.< /p>

I saw with my own eyes that people simply could not accept this reality. Even the guys who were returning from the front line experienced mental problems, because they could not fully comprehend this truth – that Russia unleashed a war on our land. Before the first major battles, some could not bring themselves to shoot, but the Kremlin's behavior forced us to accept this terrible reality,” she says.

Teilor Stone
Teilor Stonehttps://thesaxon.org
Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Bobr Times, Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my [email protected] 1-800-268-7116

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