Russian forces invaded Ukraine over 100 days ago and have been involved in fierce battles ever since, sustaining heavy losses along the way. The Kremlin has sought to impose strict controls on information surrounding its military campaign. As part of that effort, draconian laws have been passed by the country’s parliament, which make openly criticising the war potentially a criminal offence.
Despite the dangers, a young student decided to vent her anger at her country’s actions in Ukraine in an astonishing public display of dissent.
The incident was captured on video before being posted to social media channels, where it was widely disseminated.
The brave schoolgirl is recorded delivering an impromptu speech to her classmates at a prize-giving ceremony to mark the end of the school year.
Taking the microphone, she shouts in an impassioned voice: “No to war! Freedom to Ukraine! Putin is a DEVIL!”
Incredibly, fellow students and parents show their approval by breaking out into spontaneous applause.
The protest took place at School No.11 in Izberbash, a town located in Dagestan in the Caucasus.
The act of defiance is the more remarkable considering it took place in the Caucasus, where according to official figures 95 percent of the people support Putin’s war.
Dmitry Kolezev, an editor for the independent Russian news website Republic.ru, noted: “Even more striking is that this happened in Dagestan.
“Officially the entire Caucasus is 95 per cent behind Putin, but in reality there are a lot of dissatisfied people there.”
Support in the Caucasus for Putin’s war may have been impacted by the apparent high death toll it has taken on soldiers from the region.
A recent investigation by the Russian news site Meduza revealed that the majority of soldiers killed in action in Ukraine came from the Northern Caucasus region, as well as central Siberia.
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Using open source materials, Meduza was able to confirm the deaths of 2,099 Russian soldiers in Ukraine for its investigation.
The largest numbers of confirmed deaths (135) were of soldiers from Dagestan followed by Buryatia, home to the Mongol Buryat ethnic group, in Siberia (98).
Notably, only a handful of deaths of soldiers from Moscow and Saint Petersburg were identified in the study.
Images of grieving relatives being consoled by state officials have been published in local media and posted to Telegram channels in Dagestan.
In one such video, Kamil Iziiev, head of the Buynaksky district of Dagestan, is filmed giving posthumous awards to the families of five soldiers killed in Ukraine.
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He says: “You have to live on as mothers of children whose fathers heroically gave up their lives.
“Dear relatives, I ask you to remember that a person is alive so long as they are remembered.
“So let’s remember these guys.”
Dagestan is one of Russia’s poorest regions and has recently had to battle an Islamist insurgency.
Islamic terrorists from the region have successfully carried out bomb attacks in major Russian cities.
Police said that female suicide bombers from Dagestan carried out a terror attack on the Moscow metro in 2010, that killed at least 40 people.