Approximately 50,000 Russians marched through the streets of Moscow today to protest Vladimir Putin’s war with Ukraine.
The protest came after Russia vetoed a draft U.N. resolution on Saturday that would have declared Crimea’s referendum illegal.
Protesters waved Ukrainian and Russian flags and shouted slogans often heard in Kiev during anti-government demonstrations, urging Putin to withdraw his troops from Crimea.
The large turnout reflected the results of a Kremlin-sponsored poll which last month that showed 73 percent of Russians oppose interfering in Kiev.
Russian police, who regularly downplay the size of opposition demonstrations, earlier estimated the number of marchers at 3,000. A rival pro-government demonstration attracted as many as 15,000 demonstrators, according to sources.
Speaking after the U.N resolution vote, United States ambassador Samantha Power said: “Russia, isolated, alone and wrong, blocked the resolution’s passage.”
Permanent Security Council member Russia exercised its veto power during the emergency vote Saturday. China abstained from the vote, which won the approval of 13 of the council’s 15 members.
Fears that Moscow’s military intervention in Crimea and Sunday’s referendum could cause upheaval in Ukraine’s Russia-leaning eastern regions were fuelled overnight when two people died in clashes between pro-Kyiv and pro-Moscow activists in the city of Kharkiv.