When Oxxxymiron, a St. Petersburg-born rapper who’s considered one of the most influential artists in Russia, learned of President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, he canceled six of upcoming sold-out shows.
"Right now I am not capable of being silent," Oxxxymiron, 37, also said in a three-and-a-half-minute rant on Instagram Thursday. "I know that most Russians are against this war. I believe that the more people will speak about their real opinion on this war, the faster we will be able to stop this nightmare."
Oxxxymiron is no stranger to the Kremlin’s bad side—he organized the country’s infamous Get Jailed for a Text protest in 2019. Now, many other Russian celebrities, potentially at great peril to themselves, have offered their own public criticism of Putin’s new war.
Many of their social media posts feature solid black squares that have become synonymous with online protests in recent years and a caption reading “Ні війні or Нет войне” which translates to “no war” with a Ukrainian flag emoji.
Fedor Smolov, a soccer player for Dynamo Moscow, was the first on the Russian national team to publicly condemn what’s happening in Ukraine.
And Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev shared a similar message in dramatic style on live TV. After winning and advancing to his final match in Dubai on Friday, he wrote “no war please” directly onto the camera in black marker.
After weeks of escalating tensions, Russian military forces launched a full assault on the sovereign nation of Ukraine Wednesday night. Bombs dropped on cities as citizens hid in metro stations and basements overnight. While some Ukrainians have fled to the west or to other European countries like Poland to escape the encroaching violence, others have chosen to stay and fight—and some from abroad even travelled back to Ukraine—by either offering support or enlisting in the resistance themselves.
Although state-run polling shows Putin’s approval rating soaring, prominent members of the country have openly disagreed with his decision to invade. Yuri Dudt, a popular personality in Russia, told the public that he “did not vote for this regime,” according to the Guardian.
Ksenia Sobchak, the St. Petersburg-born socialite and daughter of the first democratically elected mayor of St. Petersburg who ran an unsuccessful bid for the Russian presidency in 2018, blasted the Kremlin’s decision to attack Ukraine.
“Today they woke me up at six in the morning with the words 'Ksyusha, the war has begun.”
Sobchak, who has been a vocal critic of Putin for years, said on Instagram. “We, the Russians, will be dealing with the consequences of today for many years to come.”
Sofia Abramovich, another Russian socialite and daughter of Russian oligarch, billionaire, and owner of the Chelsea Football Club Roman Abramovich, also took to social media to publicly denounce Putin’s actions.
"Putin wants a war with Ukraine,” Abramovich said in an Instagram story. “The biggest and most successful lie of Kremlin's propaganda is that most Russian's stand with Putin."
Both comedian Maxim Galkin and TV personality Ivan Urgant took to Instagram to express their dismay over the invasion, according to Newsweek. “Fear and pain, no war,” Urgant wrote in a caption underneath an image of a black square.
"I can't find the words to say what I feel!” Galkin captioned. “How can this be possible! There can be no justification for war! No to war!"
Russian pop star Valery Meladze, who has nearly half a million followers on Instagram, announced his opposition to the war in a video Thursday that has since earned over 3.5 million views.
“Today something happened that could and should never have happened,” he said in Russian speaking of the invasion, according to a translation by media outlet Fortune. “History will judge everything one day. Now I want to beg you to stop military action and sit down to negotiate.”
Since the attack began, thousands of Russian citizens have protested the invasion in several Russian cities ever since the attack began Wednesday night. Chants of “no to war” dominated these protests as well as Ukrainian flags being waved in solidarity.
A coalition of brave Russian journalists has also started to speak out against the regime. On Thursday, 650 science reporters and scientists signed a public letter condemning Putin’s actions.
State law enforcement, however, has met the resistance with its typical heavy-handed response. Police wasted no time detaining hundreds and squashing the massive gatherings.
Regina Spector, a Moscow-born Russian-American singer, shared in protestor's sympathies on social media.
“My heart breaks for this new war and all the people who will get hurt,” she tweeted. In a lengthy Instagram post, the singer criticized the war for pulling millions of civilians and children into war to fight the battles of “politicians and corporations.”.
Like Oxxxymiron, some artists are backing out of obligations to perform in Russian. Yelena Kovalskaya, director of the Russian State theater, announced that she would be stepping down from her post in protest as well.
“It is impossible to work for a murderer and get a salary from him,” Kovalskaya wrote in a brief Facebook post. “I'll bring things to the end—which have been started, at public beginnings.”
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