By: Satad Sharar
Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there has been lots of propaganda from both countries. Propaganda holds a lot of power and it influences the general population. If one tries to speak out against their government in Russia, they are punished harshly.
A 35 year old Russian computer repair store owner, Marat Grachev, and his staff members decided to voice their opinion on war during the early phase of the Russian invasion. Grachev knew taking to the streets is dangerous as he saw other demonstrators being arrested and treated badly, so he came up with his own unique way of spreading his opinion — digitally. He used one of his monitors to display the words “No War” hoping to spread this message to his customers. Things went on normally for a month until one customer threatened to report him to the police if he did not take the message down. Then, on march 31st, the police arrested and fined Grachev 100,000 rubles ($1,500 cdn). Officers first warned Grachev he would be fined $5,000 and he would have to stay in custody overnight. Then, when a human rights activist showed up, the officers’ tone changed and he was fined $1,500 instead of $5,000.
Grachev’s case is unfortunately not as rare as some would think, he is among at least 400 other people who have been fined, arrested or detained for speaking their mind. Another woman was detained because her red and yellow manicure was too political because it represented the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
These stories give people an idea about what living in Russia is like and to what extent the Russian government controls the media and public opinion. People who are against the invasion cannot publicly show their disapproval, and some of them are even forced to fight in the invasion.