Russian oligarchs’ children speak out against Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Elizaveta Peskova, daughter of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (AP)
Elizaveta Peskova, daughter of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (AP)

Some of the youngest members of Russia’s elite have broken ranks and spoken out against Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The children of oligarchs and senior officials, as well as some Russian athletes, have condemned the military attack which has seen hundreds of Ukrainians killed, thousands seeking sanctuary in subways, and even more fleeing to neighbouring countries.

People hiding out in a subway station in Kyiv (AP)
People hiding out in a subway station in Kyiv (AP)

Elizaveta Peskova, the 24-year-old daughter of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, posted a black square on her Instagram Stories – with the caption “No to war!”

Instagram Stories typically stay live for 24 hours before they are automatically taken down, but she reportedly deleted the post less than an hour after she posted it without giving a reason why.

Ms Peskova, who is vice president of the Foundation for the Development of Russian-French Historical Initiatives, appears to be close to her father as she has posted a number of pictures of them together.

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On Friday, her father defended the arrests of thousands of protesters who had demonstrated in Russia against the invasion, by saying that such rallies “are not allowed by the law”.

Sofia Abramovich, daughter of Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, shared a social media post saying Putin’s actions were not supported by the majority of Russians.

The 26-year-old professional show-jumper, who has lived and studied in London, wrote: “The biggest and most successful lie of Kremlin’s propaganda is that most Russians stand with Putin.”

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Earlier this week, her billionaire father – who withdrew his UK Tier 1 investor visa application in 2018 – was named in a parliamentary debate by British MPs as one of 35 oligarchs identified as aiding Putin’s “kleptocracy”. He denies having links to the Kremlin.

Maria Yumasheva, the granddaughter of Russia’s first post-Soviet president Boris Yeltsin and daughter of Putin’s adviser Valentin Yumashev, tweeted “No to war”.

Earlier this week, the 19-year-old also attended an anti-war rally in London in solidarity with Ukrainians – according to a video that had been posted to her Instagram Stories.

As an Instagram post, she uploaded an image of a Ukrainian flag with the caption “no to war” with the emoji of a broken heart.

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Her 32-year-old fiancé Fedor Smolov, a striker for Russia and Dynamo Moscow, was reportedly the first national team player to speak out against Putin’s actions.

Mr Smolov posted “no to war!!!” on his Instagram account using icons of Russian and Ukrainian flags.

Andrey Rublev, a 24-year-old Russian tennis player, wrote “No war please” on the camera with a blue felt-tip marker pen after winning a match in Dubai on Friday.

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Zenit St Petersburg, the team Putin supports, dropped Ukrainian defender Yaroslav Rakitskyi on Thursday night after he shared an anti-war message on Instagram.

He posted an image of the Ukrainian flag, with the caption: “I’m Ukrainian! Peace to Ukraine! Stop the war! I’m Ukrainian!”

Protesters in Saint Petersburg after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (AP)
Protesters in Saint Petersburg after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (AP)

Mass anti-war rallies have been held in a number of countries, including Russia where crowds of predominately young people risked arrest to be able to demonstrate in Moscow and St Petersburg against the Kremlin.

About 1,700 people have been arrested in dozens of cities across Russia since Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.

The largest demo in Russia was reportedly in St Petersburg – Putin’s home city.

Several hundred people gathered in the city center on Friday, chanting “No to war!” as police in full riot gear detained a number of them.

At least 437 arrests were carried out in 26 Russian cities – including 226 in Moscow and 130 in St Petersburg, according to the rights group OVD-Info that tracks political arrests.

Some protestors compared Putin to Hitler, and wrote “Adolf Putin” across buildings and in subways in St Petersburg.

Moscow woke up on Friday to discover “No to War” graffiti on walls, including on the front door of Russia’s parliament.