An estimated 10,000 people took to the streets of Moscow on Sunday to denounce the state-run media's "lies" regarding the crisis in Ukraine.
Called the "March of Truth," the demonstration was convened to highlight what protesters say is a government crackdown on independent media in an attempt to stifle debate about Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and what appears to be a growing revolt in other eastern Ukrainian cities against the new government in Kiev.
The protest mirrored charges made against western media coverage of the Ukraine crisis which, critics say, is dominated by U.S. corporate and mainstream media and largely follows a White House-friendly narrative, painting Russia as the villain without providing historic facts and important nuance.
During the rally many of the participants carried blue and yellow Ukrainian flags in a show of solidarity for the people of Ukraine. One woman, wearing a traditional Ukrainian wreath of flowers, carried a sign with Russian President Vladimir Putin's picture that read, "Stop lying."
"I'm here to protest against the rapid return of 1937, against censorship, (and) endless lies from our zombie-box (television)," protester Ekaterina Maldonko told the crowd, referencing the violent purges under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Maldonko added that she wanted to express support "for the heroes of Ukraine."
The people of Ukraine have been caught between the takeover of a pro-western government led by now acting President Oleksandr Turchynov and a push by pro-Russian protesters to cede regions of the independent nation to Kremlin control.
On Monday, pro-Russian groups seized a police building in the eastern Ukraine city of Horlivka which, according to CNN, is now the tenth city or town in the region where activists have taken over security or government buildings in recent days.
An international meeting has been called for Thursday for the United States, the European Union, Russia and Ukraine to discuss the heightening crisis.
Sunday's protesters charged the Kremlin of pushing measures to block criticism and independent voices amid the standoff. Russia recently saw the forced removal of the longtime editor of a popular Russian news site Lenta.ru and the cancellation of an independent television channel.
Further, Reuters reports:
In March, Russia blocked access to the blogs of prominent Kremlin foes Alexei Navalny and Garry Kasparov and other Internet sites that have become platforms for opposition voices.
The move followed the enactment of a law allowing prosecutors to order providers to block access to sites deemed to have published calls for participation in demonstrations planned without the consent of the government.