Children are not being exempted from Moscow's harsh crackdown on protests against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Five children and their mothers were detained Tuesday after they tried to leave flowers outside Ukraine's Moscow embassy while carrying signs reading "No to War," NPR reports. Distressing images and video of the children were posted on Facebook by university researcher Alexandra Arkhipova and shared on Twitter by Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign minister. "Putin is at war with children," Kuleba said. "In Ukraine, where his missiles hit kindergartens and orphanages, and also in Russia."
The five children and their mothers were taken away in a police van and detained in a holding cell. Footage shows one girl sobbing in a police van, saying, "I don't understand. Why are we sitting here?" Arkhipova identified the children as Liza, 11; Gosha, 11; Matvey, 9; David, 7; and Sofya, 7. She said police allegedly told mothers Yekaterina Zavizion and Olga Alter that they could lose custody of the children, reports the Moscow Times.
Arkhipova said police initially threatened to hold the terrified children overnight, but they were released after a few hours and told they could face future court dates and fines. According to official figures, around 7,000 protesters have been arrested in Russia since the invasion began almost a week ago, the Telegraph reports. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, a close Putin ally, has said all protesters are "provocateurs" and warned that "all attempts to organize street disorders will be thwarted." (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)