It can be difficult to see any hope in a situation like what’s going on in Ukraine.
Russia, a larger hostile force, is invading and killing thousands of Ukrainian citizens. It’s a diplomatic nightmare that many fear will lead to World War III. Even seeing Ukrainians bravely defending their homeland, while heroic and admirable, is devastatingly sad. So where is the good? Where is the hope?
Our first glimpse? Also in Russia.
Related: Hayden Panettiere Assures Fans 7-Year-Old Daughter Is ‘Safe’ Amid Deadly Ukraine Invasion
See, like the US, the country is not a monolith. It’s a nation made of a great many people, and they are rising up to tell their leader they don’t want this war. And since their leader is the murderous authoritarian ex-KGB agent Vladimir Putin, that really means something.
It’s quite clear, the Russian people DO NOT want a war! A friend in Moscow shared this video of protests breaking out in major cities with people shouting “No to War”. At least 700 arrested protesters has been reported. Ordinary citizens bear the harshest burdens of war #NoWar pic.twitter.com/6vcmPtRDgK
— Kwame Botchway (@kwamebotch) February 24, 2022
????????⚡???????? Across Russia, there were protests today against Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in more than 50 cities nationwide.
Police detained 1,728 protesters, including 951 in Moscow and 422 in St. Petersburg, two of the major cities of the Russian Federation. ???????????? pic.twitter.com/VC7H7jr8EC
— Naren Mukherjee ???????? (@narendra52) February 25, 2022
Even knowing what it might mean, being assaulted and arrested, they are standing up and saying NO to Putin.
It isn’t just the ordinary citizens. A few high profile Russians are speaking out, too. Ones that might actually be seen by Putin himself.
Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev performed a quiet protest on the court after his win on Friday, writing a simple message on the camera:
“No war please”
Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev writes “No war please” on the camera following his advancement to the final in Dubai. pic.twitter.com/GQe8d01rTd
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) February 25, 2022
Later in a press conference the Moscow native expanded on his message, being incredibly selfless:
“In these moments, you realize that my match is not important. It’s not about my match, how it affects me. What’s happening is much more terrible… You realize how important it is to have peace in the world and to respect each other no matter what, to be united. We should take care of our earth and of each other. This is the most important thing.”
Fellow Russian tennis star Daniil Medvedev also spoke out, saying:
“By being a tennis player, I want to promote peace all over the world. It’s just not easy to hear all this news. I’m all for peace.”
Alex Ovechkin, a Russian athlete from a different arena — literally, he’s a hockey star playing for the NHL‘s Washington Capitals — weighed in as well, saying:
“Please, no more war. It doesn’t matter who is in the war — Russia, Ukraine, different countries — I think we live in a world, like, we have to live in peace and a great world.”
Meanwhile Russian chess grandmaster Yan Nepomniachtchi tweeted on Thursday:
“History has seen many Black Thursdays. But today is blacker than the others. #нетвойне #saynotowar”
Why do these quotes in particular matter? Putin is known as a big fan of sports and chess, particularly when Russia is dominant (which, frankly, they usually are in hockey and chess). So not only is he hearing from the people he governs, he’s hearing from his nation’s heroes. It’s important.
Of course, Putin is less of a weather vain and less, well, vain, than our former president, so it’s unlikely even such a showing among celebs he respects will sway him. But it matters that they’re speaking out. It really does. It’s a sign of hope.
[Image via TSN/Twitter/AATP/WENN.]