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This is the extraordinary moment concern-goers in Russia’s second-largest city chanted ‘f** the war’ as opposition to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine grows.
Footage shows hundreds of people in a packed venue in St Petersburg repeatedly denouncing the war in Ukraine in a brazen show of defiance to Putin.
It is unclear exactly when the footage was filmed, but it was posted online at the weekend by a member of opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s party.
Hundreds of Russian concert-goers were filmed chanting ‘f*** the war’ during a gig in St Petersburg in the latest sign of opposition to the invasion of Ukraine
The video emerged after rock singer Yuri Shevchuk was charged with ‘discrediting’ the military for giving an anti-war speech at a gig in the city of Perm last week.
In footage of that speech, which was also posted online, Shevchuk – lead singer of 1980s rock band DDT – can be heard telling the 8,000-strong crowd: ‘The people of Ukraine are being murdered. For what?
‘Our boys are dying over there. For what? What are the goals, my friends? For some Napoleonic plans of another Caesar of ours, yes?
‘The motherland, my friends, is not the president’s a** that has to be slobbered and kissed all the time.’
Russian opposition to the war erupted shortly after Putin declared the start of his ‘special military operation’ back in February, with mass protests in Moscow and other large Russian cities.
But the despotic president reacted quickly with new laws to crack down on free speech, shuttering almost all opposition news outlets and arresting people at the rallies en masse.
Since then protests have been muted, though UK intelligence today predicted they will grow again as Russia’s death toll mounts.
Yuri Shevchuk, lead signer of rock band DDT, was charged with ‘discrediting’ the army after giving an anti-war speech on stage last week
Britain’s Ministry of Defence believes Russia has now lost as many soldiers in three months of war in Ukraine as the Soviets did in nine years in Afghanistan, when 15,000 soldiers were killed and 35,000 wounded.
‘The Russian public has, in the past, proven sensitive to casualties suffered in wars of choice,’ an intelligence briefing from the MoD said.
‘As casualties suffered in Ukraine continue to rise they will become more apparent, and public dissatisfaction with the war and a willingness to voice it may grow.’
Russia is now almost three months into what was intended to be a days-long war to seize control of Ukraine by toppling the government and installing a puppet regime.
That effort failed when Russian forces attacking from Belarus were unable to break into Kyiv and were forced to retreat back across the border.
Russian generals now cynically claim their aim was never to take the capital, but instead intended that attack to distract from their real aim – seizing Donbas.
Heavy fighting is now underway in the region, particularly around the city of Severodonetsk, as Putin’s commanders try to force a bloody victory.
President Zelensky has estiamted that between 50 and 100 Ukrainian soldiers are now being lost every day on the eastern front – which he described as ‘hell’.
Though Ukrainian losses are mounting, Russia is thought to be faring worse and has fewer troops to lose after Kyiv ordered a general mobilisation – something that Putin has yet to do, perhaps fearing the political consequences.
Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, and since then has seen at least 15,000 of his troops killed according to Western estimates
British intelligence believes Russia has now lost more men in three months fighting in Ukraine than it lost in nine years in Afghanistan, and public protests will soon grow (file image)
Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said last week that the country is aiming to have 1million soldiers on the frontlines in the near future, compared with a pre-invasion force of 190,000 Russians.
Ukraine’s armed forces are also now being equipped with up-to-date weapons from NATO countries such as long-range artillery and precision ammunition, as opposed to Soviet-era weapons it has been fighting with up to now.
Russia has committed some of its newer-generation equipment to the fight – most notably jets and ‘Terminator’ fighting vehicles – but has been largely waging war with Cold War-era equipment.
International sanctions are thought to have closed some of the country’s tank factories, meaning that it will struggle to replenish stocks as the war drags on.
Putin’s generals have achieved modest success in recent days with the capture of Mariupol after the final Ukrainian defenders surrendered.
The Azov Sea port city is now completely under Russian control, meaning a so-called ‘land bridge’ between occupied Donbas and Crimea is complete – thought to have been one of the key objectives before the invasion.
But elsewhere, gains have been piecemeal – and in some places have gone into reverse, with Ukraine gaining back territory.
Counter-attacks to the north of second-city Kharkiv have seen the Russians pushed back across the border in several places, with the city now largely free from bombardment after weeks being shelled.
The counter-move also puts Russia supply lines running from Belgorod – a major logistics hug – to Donbas under threat, further hampering advances in the east.