As Moscow residents went about their morning early this week, they may have come across an artist laying face-down in front of government buildings and landmarks, recreating widely-seen images of the alleged massacre of civilians in Bucha, Ukraine which have sparked international outrage in recent days.
Wearing a brown jacket with their hands tied behind their back with white fabric, the artist appeared on a staircase outside the Kremlin, two streets crowded with pedestrians, and a bridge outside the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, according to images posted Monday by independent Russian media outlet Holod.
The U.K.'s Telegraph reported that the "Bucha-Moscow" action by an unidentified artist was in protest of Russian President Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine.
An artist in Russia recorded these images outside famous sites in Moscow to protest the Russian military\u2019s massacre of civilians in Bucha. https://t.me/holodmedia/2714\u00a0pic.twitter.com/0H1lm040dg— Kevin Rothrock (@Kevin Rothrock) 1649136902
The display came a month after the Russian Parliament passed a new law prohibiting the spread of so-called "fake" information about the country's military, which the government has repeatedly told the Russian public is not at war but is rather carrying out a "special military operation" to defeat far-right extremists in Ukraine.
Thousands of Russians have been arrested for demonstrating against the war, including some who have been detained after holding up blank signs.
Images of what Ukrainian officials have called the "Bucha massacre" began to surface on Saturday after Russian forces retreated from the Kyiv suburb. Authorities in Ukraine say they have uncovered more than 400 bodies in the town, with many buried in mass graves and some found with bound hands and gunshot wounds to the head.
Bucha, Kyiv region. The bodies of people with tied hands, who were shot dead by soldiers lie in the streets. These people were not in the military. They had no weapons. They posed no threat. How many more such cases are happening right now in the occupied territories? (1/2)pic.twitter.com/AJloZ81JIt— \u041c\u0438\u0445\u0430\u0439\u043b\u043e \u041f\u043e\u0434\u043e\u043b\u044f\u043a (@\u041c\u0438\u0445\u0430\u0439\u043b\u043e \u041f\u043e\u0434\u043e\u043b\u044f\u043a) 1648927341
The alleged civilian killings by Russian forces have been condemned as a "war crime" by U.S. President Joe Biden, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Tuesday called for Russia's expulsion from the U.N. Human Rights Council.
"We cannot be serving this war. We have to use all methods of protest available for us."
Russia has denied involvement in the killings and has accused Ukrainian officials of staging a "hoax" and placing the bodies in the streets after Russian soldiers withdrew from Bucha last week.
Satellite imagery has refuted those claims, the New York Times reported Monday, with images and video showing "many of the civilians were killed more than three weeks ago, when Russia's military was in control of the town."
Russian support for the war in Ukraine stands at about 83% according to a poll released last week by the Levada Center, an independent pollster in Moscow, but international observers say surveys of the Russian public are unreliable due pressure to refrain from criticizing the government.
With anti-war protests outlawed in Russia, dissenters like the artist who replicated the Bucha images on Tuesday have begun staging unique demonstrations.
In another recent campaign, the Feminist Anti-War Resistance has placed crosses at dozens of locations around Russia, memorializing hundreds of people killed in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol in recent weeks.
From the Feminist Anti-War Resistance (@femagainstwar) elsewhere.\nThe bit about "send it to the bot" is regarding official automation functionality on a different platform, not here.pic.twitter.com/XrPt6Ng82H— b9AcE \ud83d\udc0a (@b9AcE \ud83d\udc0a) 1648726552
"We cannot be serving this war," said the group in a statement. "We have to use all methods of protest available for us."