Are Russians Fighting Back Against Putin? — A Brief History of Protest in Russia in 2022

Jakub Ferencik
6 min readFeb 28

It’s reading break at McGill University, where I am completing my master’s degree, so I have a lot more time to devote to my blog — at least for the week.

I thought I would take this opportunity to write up a brief history of Russian protest against its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. It’s been one year since the invasion, so it’s about time I analyzed this trajectory especially because many have put Russian opposition to the invasion into question.

There is opposition to the invasion in Russia — that’s clear enough. The question of whether there’s enough opposition is above this post. There’s always more that can be done. And civil disobedience is definitely not enough to dissuade Putin’s imperialism.

Here, I will simply go over some of the main events and how some Russians have positioned themselves against Putin and his enablers.

Photo by Valery Tenevoy on Unsplash

In 2022, Russia saw an uptick of protests against the government and President Vladimir Putin. These were primarily because of the war in Ukraine, but also because of the imprisonment of opposition figures such as Alexei Navalny.

In the years prior to the war, protests were sparked by a variety of issues, including the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising inflation, and economic hardship.

These were hardly ever entirely dispersed, however, because they rarely threatened Putin and his kleptocratic machinery, that is Russia.

The responses to the protests in 2022 are different.

Russia’s Response to Opposition to the War

These protests we’ve been seeing across Russia, but especially in its larger cities (such as St. Petersburg and Moscow) were met with a heavy-handed response from the authorities, with police arresting hundreds of people and using force to disperse the crowds.

In general, the Russian government has been intolerant of protests and dissent. This has been particularly true in the case of protests against the war on Ukraine, which the Russian government has justified as a necessary response to what it sees as Western interference in the region.

Jakub Ferencik

Author of “Up in the Air” & “Beyond Reason” available on AMAZON | MA McGill Uni | Research assistant for EUROPEUM Prague | 700+ blog posts with 1+ mil. views