Ali Miraj 10pm - 1am
Thousands of people in cities across Russia defy Putin and join anti-war protests
24 February 2022, 18:38 | Updated: 24 February 2022, 19:23
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Moscow and other towns and cities in Russia in open protest of Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
A monitoring group suggested as many as 900 arrests had been made at demonstrations in 44 cities and towns across the country.
In Moscow, Red Square was closed off and military trucks were reportedly moved into the city centre to put down any potential protests and discourage public disorder.
Russian riot police in full body armour were deployed in Moscow to clamp down on the unsanctioned protests.
There were similar scenes in St Petersburg with hundreds more people taking to the streets.
Look at the size of anti-war protestors in St Petersburg, Russia. Wow pic.twitter.com/dHg9Uwt9RQ— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) February 24, 2022
There were further protests in Tyumen and Novosibirsk, it is understood.
Сейчас в Москве. Люди скандируют «Нет войне!». pic.twitter.com/yLOAgGztVc— Тот самый Мартин (@martin_camera) February 24, 2022
People of all ages who were taking part in the protest in Moscow were being aggressively arrested by police. Dissident figures known to police were being rounded up at their front doors before they could join protests.
Ukrainian protesters in London said they are "heartbroken" and "terrified" as they called on the UK to do more to stop Vladimir Putin taking over their country.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Downing Street on Thursday afternoon to call for more drastic action from Britain and the international community, including "total isolation of Russia" as its troops invade Ukraine.
The crowd sang the Ukrainian national anthem and chanted: "Stop Putin. Stop the war", and "Ukraine is not Russia".
People also held up placards with images of Mr Putin saying "terrorist", "killer", and "Putin! Get out of Ukraine".
Natalia Ravlyuk, a volunteer who helped organise the protest, said "We want the toughest sanctions and total isolation of Russia now."
She said: "We feel very angry, we feel very anxious and we feel betrayed by democratic states because we have been talking about this war for eight years.
"They just need to wake up and stop Putin now."
Olga Gevorkyan, 30, who has been in the UK for around a year, said that her entire family and all her friends are still at home in the northern Ukraine near to the Belarusian border.
Growing tearful, she said: "I am crying since this morning.
"I'm afraid to lose contact with them because it could happen any day.
"I have everyone - my family, my close friends, my heart and soul is there."
Olesya Khromeychuk, 38, director of the Ukrainian Institute in London, whose brother died fighting on the frontline in the Donbas region in Ukraine in 2017, said she feels "awful".
"The international community has to stand with Ukraine," she added before calling on Britons to "stay informed from reliable sources", "take to the streets", "write to your MP", and "stand in solidarity".
Dmytro, 32, another Ukrainian national who did not want to give his last name, said: "When someone just invades your home, it is devastating.
"It feels like someone has just ripped through part of you."
He also said the current sanctions were "not enough" and that they will hit the lives of ordinary Russians but "have little effect" on those with money and power.