On February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his soldiers to attack Ukraine and bomb its main urban centers. The controversial decision divided the Russian people and a growing number of Russians have decided to disobey orders and fight against a decision they consider arbitrary and incomprehensible.
Photo: Bekir Kasım - Anadolu Agency
LatinAmerican Post | Juan Felipe Rengifo González
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The Freedom of Russia Legion movement began on February 27 with a hundred volunteers who arrived in Ukraine with the slogan of "protecting its inhabitants from the real fascists." The training has been ongoing since that date and has focused on target practice and rifle handling. Although most of the members are professional soldiers, no detail is left to chance.
The so-called Freedom of Russia Legion invites those young people who "hate the Putin regime and want Russia to be a free and democratic country" to unite for this cause. The daily requests for new followers exceed 300 (although most are discarded due to the military inexperience of the candidates). Their reasons are very varied, but the feeling of the majority affirms that what has been ordered by the Kremlin is a "crime" and that there is no underlying reason to attack a sister nation.
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The legion's banner is the white and blue flag, similar to the Russian flag, but the red color is suppressed, which symbolizes opposition to the government of Vladimir Putin. Despite their increasingly influential role in the conflict, their identities are closely guarded, as most of the families live in Russia and could be at high risk.
Their main information channel has been the Telegram social network, and through numerous propaganda messages they have managed to expand their influence and the number of followers of their cause. “We discovered that we were on the wrong side, now we know the reality of the war,” said one of the harangues published by the opposition newspaper The Moscow Times.
About the regions where they have had influence, according to anonymous testimonies from soldiers, cities like Irpin, close to the capital Kyiv and classified as heroic by the President of Ukraine Volodimir Zelenski himself, and the urban and industrial centers of Severodonetsk and Lisichansk, belonging to The Dombas region, the epicenter of the conflict, have been places where they have been present.
Although most of the members of the Freedom of Russia Legion are from Russia, people from Poland, Belarus and especially Georgia have also been joining this movement. Traditionally, a significant percentage of the Georgian population believe that Vladimir Putin will not settle for the disputed Ukrainian territories, but will also want to extend his influence in other countries, as happened years ago in Georgia with the self-proclaimed republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both of pro-Russian tendencies. Today, these volunteers believe that defeating Russia in Ukraine would be the safest and most effective way to take care of the national territory in their home countries.
The slogan is clear and is not to sit idly by in the face of a conflict that has displaced families and puts the future of generations at risk. It's been about 10 months of conflict, but the Freedom of Russia Legion will continue to fight for democracy, defend the right of the people to make their own decisions and bet on a Russia that frees itself, according to them, from the dictatorial regime of Vladimir Putin.