Russian troops continue to retreat in Ukraine. In Russia, the anger of the Russian elite is growing, and for the moment President Vladimir Putin is not spared.
On Wednesday, the chairman of the lower house of parliament’s defense committee bluntly told the army to “stop lying” while at its daily briefing it congratulated itself on inflicting heavy losses on Ukrainian forces, without mentioning its withdrawal. “People know. Our people are not stupid. And he sees that we don’t want to tell him the truth. This will lead to a loss of credibility,” former general Andrei Kartabolov said on the microphone of the online program of Vladimir Solovyov, a star host in the Russian media industry and an ardent patriot.
“Shoot Yourself a Bullet”
The EU-sanctioned commentator was unrelenting this week, saying some within the military command deserved a firing squad. “Criminals must be punished, unfortunately we don’t have the death penalty, and for some people that’s the only solution. They don’t even have the sense of honor of officers because they don’t shoot themselves,” Mr Solovyov said into his microphone, before rubbing his eyes for a long time, looking disappointed.
As another example, Alexander Kotz, the star war correspondent of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, said on his Telegram channel that “no good news will come (from the front) in the near future.”
The vehemence of some and others’ sense of defeat has been most striking since Vladimir Putin decreed the unification of the four Ukrainian regions, an event celebrated by a huge concert in Red Square, where the Kremlin master waved to the Russian crowd. Flags: “Victory is ours”.
Admittedly, no criticism was directed at the all-powerful head of state or his defense minister, Sergei Shoigu. But when Chechnya’s master, the formidable Ramzan Kadyrov, attacked Russian generals, called for the use of nuclear weapons and said the Russian president had been misinformed, the Kremlin had to react.
“In difficult times, emotions should be excluded (…) We want to make measured and objective assessments (of the situation),” replied the presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
As for Vladimir Putin, he has had to publicly admit to “mistakes” made during mobilization, and has faced an avalanche of documented cases of people unfit to fight, who were called to join the front.
Largely devastated by two years of repression and the imprisonment of its leader, Alexeï Navalny, the opposition, which operates mainly from abroad, wants to try to rebuild itself in Russia. “There are millions of people in Russia, hostages of Putin and unwilling to fight. These people are gradually realizing that action must be taken,” said Leonid Volkov, a close friend of Mr Navalny, who announced on YouTube the reactivation of a militant network in Russian regions.
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