Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies have cracked down on dissidents and activists who have spoken out against the war.
The Kremlin passed a law that imposes a sentence of up to 15 years in prison for journalists and activists who publish “fake news” about the war, which Putin refers to as a “special military operation.”
Hundreds of thousands of people have reportedly demonstrated peacefully against the war, and thousands have been arrested, fined, or punished in response, according to Human Rights Watch. The growing list includes journalists, human rights defenders, protest organizers and local politicians.
These are the most prominent Russians we know of who have been punished for speaking out against the war.
Vladimir Kara-Murza and Ilya Krasilshchik
One of the Kremlin’s most active critics and dissidents, Vladimir Kara-Murza, is being held until June 12 while awaiting trial for speaking out against the war.
Kara-Murza is accused of denouncing the war in Ukraine during a March 15 speech to the Arizona House of Representatives.
He is a journalist and a former associate of Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated in 2015. Kara-Murza himself has survived two poisoning attempts.
The same day the charges against him were announced, Russian authorities unsealed separate charges against Ilya Krasilshchik, the former Meduza editor.
Krasilshchik is accused of spreading “fake” news about the massacre in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, which has led to war crimes charges against Moscow.
Krasilshchik, who wrote an article critical of the Kremlin in The New York Times in March, reportedly fled the country and continued to report on the war.
The journalist for Channel One, one of Russia’s most popular state news stations, was fined $270 for organizing unauthorized protests.
Ovsyannikova made international headlines when she appeared on television behind a presenter during a live broadcast, holding an anti-war banner that read: “Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They are lying to you here.”
After she was released from quick detention, Ovsyannikova said that she “wanted to show the world that the Russians are against the war.”
“I realized that I would have to do something or we would reach a point of no return and it would be more and more difficult to do anything,” he said on CNN.
A former member of the Russian parliament and director of the non-profit organization For Human Rights, Lev Ponomarev is one of the best-known activists in Russia.
A few days after the invasion, Ponomarev was arrested and fined 30,000 rubles after authorities said he had organized a protest in Moscow, according to the Russian Interfax news agency.
Ponomarev announced he was leaving Russia last month. The 80-year-old activist said he was growing increasingly concerned, citing “grim information about what they intended to do to me” and the listing of him as a foreign agent.
“I doubt my leave of absence will last long,” Ponomarev told AFP on April 22.
Alexander Nevzorov is one of Russia’s most popular journalists and a former member of parliament.
Though he has since resigned from Leningrad TV, now Channel 5, and other TV stints, Nevzorov has continued to blog and record videos about affairs in Russia, often critical of the government.
This year he drew the ire of the Kremlin when he criticized Russia for bombing a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol in March. The Russian Investigative Committee specifically charged him for posting photos and reporting on the maternity hospital bombing to his large number of followers on Instagram and YouTube.
A court has ordered that Nevzorov, who is currently in Israel, be detained for two months upon his return to Russia for spreading false information about the nation’s armed forces, according to Radio Free Europe.
Russia has denied responsibility for the hospital attack, which killed at least three people, including a child.
The Russian journalist once sided with Russian nationalists, but in recent years has switched sides and become a staunch critic of the Kremlin.
Nevzorov does not plan to move to Israel permanently and has sought to have the case against him dismissed.
RusNews journalist Maria Ponomarenko was sentenced to two months in prison for publishing information about the Russian bombing of a theater in Mariupol, where hundreds of Ukrainians were hiding.
According to the Russian outlet Sota.Vision, which itself has been a target of the Kremlin’s crackdown, police arrested Ponomarenko in late April for spreading “falsities about the Russian military.”
Sota.Vision wrote on her Telegram channel that Ponomarenko has two children who will have to live with their grandparents while she is in prison.
The Siberian news outlet RusNews has long criticized Moscow’s leadership. Ponomarenko has covered anti-war rallies and has written extensively about opposition to Putin for the site.
Her arrest caught the attention of the Committee to Protect Journalists, which called on Moscow to release her immediately.