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WATCH: Detained Protesters In Perm, Russia, Speak Out Against The War In Ukraine
Jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has called for protests this weekend against Moscow's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine to combat the "propaganda" machine created by President Vladimir Putin.
The Kremlin's most vocal critic urged the anti-war movement in a March 11 post on Instagram to put aside their fears of being arrested and take to the streets in what is "definitely not a futile fight."
"Mad maniac Putin will most quickly be stopped by the people of Russia now if they oppose the war," he said in the post. Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the biggest assault on a European country since World War II, on February 24. Moscow says Ukraine poses a threat to its security. Navalny said that since then, "Putin's propaganda" had hidden the extent of casualties and lied about the reason for the war and the destruction it is wreaking on both countries. "If we believe [opinion polls], one in three supported the anti-war movement at the start of the conflict," he wrote. "And this was before the war hit us too, with sanctions and economic disaster. Before the main horror of the war -- coffins with sons returning to their mothers," he added. Since Russia launched its invasion, almost 14,000 people have been detained by police for protesting against the conflict, according to the OVD-Info, a nonprofit that monitors police arrests nationwide.
Navalny is currently serving a 2 1/2-year sentence on what his supporters and Western legal analysts call a trumped-up fraud charge.
He was arrested immediately upon returning to Russia from Germany, where he was being treated for a poison attack in Siberia that he says Putin ordered.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the 2020 incident that nearly took Navalny's life.
Even though he is incarcerated, Navalny is able to send messages and social-media posts to his supporters through his lawyers and close associates.