Russia cracks down on citizens expressing support for Ukraine

(ABC 6 News) – For a year and a half Ukraine has been under siege. Nearly ten thousand Ukrainian civilians have been killed.

But Russian forces aren’t only attacking Ukrainians. Within their own country, they’re going after anyone who opposes the Russian invasion.

Reverend Yuri Sipko is among those targeted. He says Russian authorities came after him after he recently spoke out about the war. Sipko chose to speak out because of his Christian faith.

He escaped Russia earlier this month and sought refuge in Germany.

He’s confident Russia is retailing against him. He told ABC 6 News through an interpreter that Russia is building a case against him for speaking out.

“The case was opened against me, a criminal case, looking for me to put me in prison because I have been speaking out, speaking the truth that Russia waged war on Ukraine,” said Sipko.

Then his home was raided by Russia’s secret police, the FSB. Luckily, Sipko was able to flee Russia before he was caught.

“People are dying, everything is being destroyed. It’s criminal. They should not be doing this,” said Sipko.

Not only are Russians like Sipko speaking out, but so are people in the U.S.

“Glory to Ukraine. Glory to the heroes,” said Vladimir Valioukevitch.

He came to Rochester from Belarus in the 1990s and stays up to date with all of the news on the Ukrainian war.

“Ukrainians never asked for this. All they wanted was just to be free,” said Valioukevitch.

Sipko is accused of spreading false information about the Russian government and the war with Ukraine, but Valioukevitch says the real lies come from the government.

“I lived in USSR and I know what Soviet propaganda is. I mean, they give you a little bit of truth, and the rest is lies, so you have to do your own homework,” said Valioukevitch.

Sipko has no plans to stop speaking out against the war.

“I’m speaking out and I think everybody should speak against this because the death is a tragedy and it shouldn’t be happening,” said Sipko.

Sipko is safely out of Russia, but his family, including a wife and eight adult children, were left behind, facing danger and blackmail by the Russian government.

While Sipko wants to help his family, he doesn’t have the resources to do so right now.

But he will continue to do what he feels is his duty and speak the truth.