Muscovites continued to endure the threat of arrest to lay flowers at the improvised memorial to the victims of the Ukrainian Dnieper missile attack, AFP journalists testified on Monday.

The rare criticism of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, which has lasted almost a year, comes against the backdrop of broad legislation that barely prohibits opposition to hostilities.

Officials in Ukraine say at least 46 people were killed in a Russian attack on a residential building in Dnieper last week, one of the bloodiest attacks of the Russian military campaign to date.

At the monument to the Ukrainian poet Lesya, Ukrainians in Moscow have already removed flowers and children’s toys several times, but local residents continued to pay their respects.

“How can I express how I feel about this tragedy? I want to express my condolences and sympathies to the people who are suffering right now,” Mathematician Alena Ivanova told AFP.

“There is no other option. This is the only way to protest,” said the 63-year-old woman on Monday, laying flowers and crossing herself at the memorial.

The Russian human rights group “OVD Info”, which monitors the country’s police, reports that about five people were detained near the Moscow memorial.

According to the group, around 20,000 people have been detained in protest against the conflict since last February.

Forty-year-old tour guide Alexander Voloshyn stood silently by the monument for several minutes, taking off his hat.

He said that as soon as he saw pictures of the memorial on the Internet, he wanted to come to “see with his own eyes that Muscovites sympathize and empathize.”

“To have a memorial to the victims in Ukraine, Ukrainians and sympathy for them,” he said.

“I have many friends in Ukraine, offline friends, relatives and online friends,” he told AFP.

“And it’s very important for them to know that there is compassion, that there is some kind of protest against the nightmare.”

The Kremlin denied striking residential areas in Ukraine.

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