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Criticism of Ukraine war spreads on Russian social media as loved ones die

One of Russia’s most important social media sites is publishing online posts that condemn the deaths of Russian soldiers and critique the Ukraine war, despite its strict stance on dissent.

These posts were written in Russian, and appear to have been posted by real Russian citizens using VKontakte(VK), which is a similar platform to Facebook.

“This f ****** took another dear to me… For what!!?” “What?” wrote one young woman grieving the loss of her partner.

Breaking silence: Scenes from Russia’s front


She posted another photo with them, showing them smiling wide for the camera while she sat in his lap. He is holding her close and drapes her arm over his shoulders.

Image In the photo, the couple hug tight.

Similar messages are posted by others.

Another grieving woman wrote, “Now you’ll be an eternally young boy of twenty-two years old with bright blue eyes and a bright smile [but] the damn war has wiped out your face from the earth.”

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One user demanded that the war be ended, calling it a “meat grinder”, in apparent reference to the many lives it claimed. Another said, “These men died an awful death.”

These comments were made on pages that are meant to remember the fallen soldiers of Ukraine.

Sky News found similar posts on community forums. Previously, discussions on local pages were focused on weather and crime rates. However, messages now pay tribute to fallen soldiers.

A recent blog post mentioned the deaths of six men in Vologda (a city located in northwest Russia).

“Stop the war !!!! “Stop the war!” reads the brazen comment below it. Another argument states that “why shouldn’t the Armed Forces of Ukraine protect their house when it is attacked?” The same post.

They are taking a chance by posting publicly, as VK monitors comments that are not permitted.

This is something that users know, as some community pages on VK point readers to encrypted Telegram channels. One page stated that they only publish uncensored news which is not available on VK.

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Russia at Home: Putin’s Home Front

These types of negative comments can also be shut down by other users. Others will voice their disapproval at the posts and threaten to report them to moderators. These users often attack the poster of the anti-war message, insulting them and calling them “scum”.

These comments are scattered amongst other posts, which praise the fallen men in the vast majority. Users send condolences and praise to the families of those who have lost their lives.

One typical post is “Thanks to such troops, the country can rest peacefully.”

VK and other platforms are full of praise for Russia’s actions against Ukraine.

TikTok is extremely popular, and videos glorifying Russia and Putin are getting millions of views.

A clip of Russian President Vladimir Putin giving a speech to an audience to uplifting music was viewed more then 1.7 million times. He tells a large crowd that Russia will defeat Ukraine in this clip.

Another video, which has been viewed over 2.1 million times, shows Russia expanding its control to takeover the entire of Ukraine. The caption states that this is what would occur if Russia unleashed all its force on Ukraine.

Russia suffered heavy losses in the war that began nearly one year ago. According to US estimates, around 200,000 Russian troops were injured or killed in the Ukraine war. Moscow claims that its losses are far lower.

Russia has enacted new laws to censor the war in Ukraine, which include a ban on the use of “war”. The fighting in Ukraine can be referred to as “special military operations”.

This censorship is a serious one. Maria Ponomarenko, a Russian journalist, was sentenced earlier this month to six years imprisonment. This makes her the first journalist to be imprisoned under new censorship laws. Her negative comment on social media about the war triggered her trial.

OVD-Info monitors Russian human rights and reports that at most 440 people were recorded as “suspects or convicts of anti-war criminal trials” and that over 19,000 people were detained during anti-war demonstrations since the 24th February 2022. According to its website.

Sky News decided not to release the names of people who posted critical messages in this article due to safety concerns.


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