Crowds gathered in Ukraine to protest the detention of the deputy mayor of Enerhodar while protesters blocked traffic at the Poland-Belarus border and Russia continued to arrest demonstrators against the invasion. Photo courtesy Ivan Samoydyuk/Facebook
March 20 (UPI) — Crowds gathered in Ukraine to protest the detention of the deputy mayor of Enerhodar while protesters blocked traffic at the Poland-Belarus border and Russia continued to arrest demonstrators against the invasion.
An estimated 1,500 protesters demonstrated against the detention of Ivan Samoydyuk by Russian forces on Sunday, according to pictures and videos posted to Facebook by his son.
“The occupiers, who did not get any cooperation from the city authorities, committed outright criminal acts. The first deputy mayor Ivan Samoydyuk has been kidnapped!” the deputy mayor’s son, who is also named Ivan, posted.
“We do not know in what condition he is! We haven’t been in touch since yesterday. And today we received confirmed information that he was cynically abducted!”
The younger Samoydyuk said in a follow-up post that Russian troops eventually showed up at the peaceful protest and “tried to capture several participants” before firing weapons into the air to disperse the crowd.
Enerhodar is near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which Russian forces took control of earlier this month. It is the country’s largest nuclear energy facility.
The Ukraine protest came as dozens of protesters blocked trucks carrying goods from Poland to Belarus on Sunday leading to a 30-mile traffic backup, The New York Times reported.
At least 936 people were arrested on Sunday for protesting in 37 cities in Russia, according to the independent human rights watchdog OVD-Info.
The extent of protests in Russia have been difficult to document since Russian President Vladimir Putin approved laws criminalizing speaking out against the Russian military and targeting journalists who report what the government considers to be “false news” about the invasion.
However, OVD-Info said that more than 15,000 people have been arrested for protesting in Russia since the start of the invasion.
Luka Zatravkin, the son of artist Nikas Safronov, was arrested in Moscow last week for handcuffing himself to the entrance of a McDonald’s restaurant while blaming Russia for their departure from the country, according to OVD-Info.
McDonald’s and Starbucks had announced that they would close all of their locations in Russia over the ongoing “humanitarian crisis” in Ukraine. McDonald’s has more than 800 stores in the country after becoming the first American chain restaurant to open during the end of the Soviet Union.
“Now we are being deprived of the very ideas of democracy and the values of human rights, showing that freedom is a fiction. Because politicians from world powers can take away our freedoms with the stroke of a pen,” Zatravkin said in a post to Telegram.
“This is a real genocide of the common people, who are going to create unbearable living conditions. Because along with violent prohibitions, all our moral and social postulates collapse.”
Earlier this month, a video posted to Twitter appeared to show police in St. Petersburg detaining Elena Osipova, a 77-year-old survivor of the siege of Leningrad in World War II.