'This has broken my life': Russian artists demand free speech, flee their homeland to protest Ukraine war

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Ukraine war has Russian migrants moving to Finland to protest Putin

  • Many Russian artists have long faced the threat of persecution for not supporting official stances, but their criticism of the war put them in danger of imprisonment.
  • Many artists in Russia work for theaters that are fully or partially funded through the Russian state, leaving them particularly vulnerable to censorship.
  • Amid a harsh crackdown on opposing views, many are unsure if or when it will ever be possible to return.

KOTKA, Finland – Two days after Russia invaded Ukraine, a bearded and distraught-looking Ivan Nikolaev, 35, posted a video on YouTube denouncing President Vladimir Putin for the attack.

“Innocent Ukrainian citizens are being murdered as Russia continues to occupy an independent state of Ukraine,” Nikolaev said. “As citizens of Russia, we are all involved in this military crime.”

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