“AN INSANE WAR”
Nikolai Zima, 18, is studying business. He was still underage when he started attending meetings in support of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was poisoned and then jailed in what his supporters say is punishment for standing up to President Vladimir Putin.
Today, Zima says he is “ready to go to war” if he is called up.
“If we are attacked, yes, I’m ready to go,” he says. “But not against Ukraine or other sister nations.”
“This is an insane war. I’m totally against it. I can’t remain indifferent,” he says, casting round at the deserted square.
Irina Aroyan, who is there with her teenage son, is the only person carrying a “sign” – a bow tied to her bag in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag.
“I am ashamed of my country and my army, who aren’t protecting anyone and who are attacking another country,” the 52-year-old says.
Once an independent journalist, Aroyan now teaches English to young people “to make ends meet”.
During the lessons she talks politics. “Unfortunately, all we have in Russia is propaganda and pro-Kremlin television,” she says.
Of her 10 students, eight have told her they support the war.
“Sadly, 80 per cent of young people are victims of this propaganda. They have no idea what’s going on in the world.”