• Sobyanin said protestors aim to create an atmosphere of chaos
  • Russia's 51 cities have been witnessing anti-war protests 
  • Independent radio and websites have also been blocked 

A day after Russia witnessed a huge anti-war protest, which lead to the arrest of over 2,000 people, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has admonished people to "not follow provocateurs."

In a blog post that appeared on March 1, Sobyanin vowed to prevent attempts to organize street protests, reported Radio Free Europe.

He added that "all calls by provocateurs" to hold protests "aim to disrupt the city management works and create an atmosphere of chaos." "All attempts to organize street disorders will be consequently thwarted," Sobyanin, a close ally of Putin, added.

His warning comes as Moscow witnesses thousands of anti-war activists taking to the streets to protest Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Not just in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, protestors took to the streets in over 49 other cities too, according to a human-rights group. The hashtag "#нетвойне" (Russian for "no war") too started trending soon after Russian troops rolled into Ukraine.

The momentum only grows stronger as more than 150 Russian Orthodox clerics sought an immediate stop to the ongoing war in Ukraine. In an open letter issued on March 1, the clerics said they "respect the freedom of any person given to him or her by God." They added that the people of Ukraine "must make their own choices by themselves, not at the point of assault rifles and without pressure from either West or East. "

This comes as Russian authorities are allegedly blocking independent media reporting on the war. Moscow radio station Ekho Moskvy is the latest to be taken off the air for the war coverage.

Ekho Moskvy Editor in Chief Aleksei Venediktov said on Telegram on March 1 that the radio station had been taken off the air and vowed to appeal the decision in court.

"The Editorial Board of Ekho Moskvy absolutely disagrees with the demand of the Prosecutor-General's Office that led to the radio station being cut off the air," said Venediktov, one of Russia's best-known journalists.

Besides Ekho Moskvy, Russia has also blocked the websites of Current Time and the Russian-language Crimea.Realities project. Both the websites belong to Radio Free Europe's Ukrainian Service. Another popular independent Russian media outlet, the Dozhd television channel, was also blocked.

Russian state media-monitoring agency Roskomnadzor had warned media outlets across the country not to call the Ukrainian invasion "war" and instead referred to it as a "special military operation in Ukraine."

Police in Moscow detain a protestor against Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Police in Moscow detain a protestor against Russia's invasion of Ukraine AFP / Alexander NEMENOV