In an article published in the Moscow Times newspaper, Russian veterans in particular condemned President Putin’s offensive in Ukraine. Vitaly Votanovsky was one of them. After retiring as a lieutenant colonel from the Russian Air Force, he began engaging in political activities to counter Kremlin propaganda.
The man has already been detained several times for photographing the graves of dead soldiers, but he is determined to continue his fight in the face of a battle that seems prematurely lost. “Putin destroyed the country’s military mobilization resources with his own hands, and now this idiot is at war with the whole world”Vodanovsky told the Moscow Times. “He created a situation where we couldn’t win“.
Censorship and Penalty
The former lieutenant-colonel has been targeted by censorship laws because of his public criticism, particularly of the Russian mobilization ordered by Vladimir Putin on September 21.
Nikolai Prokhudin, 61, a staunch opponent of the war in Ukraine, deplores the fact that the majority of Russians are being fooled by propaganda. Last year he signed a petition against the “escalation of the war” in Ukraine along with another veteran, Sergei Gulyev, who served as a Soviet intelligence officer in Afghanistan. Although the signatures of several players who originally supported the petition were later removed from it, Kuliev did not remove his name.
Like other people, veterans put themselves at risk when they criticize the conflict in Ukraine. Several players have already been fined for speaking out. In May, a court in Russia’s northern Vologda region convicted retired captain Nikolai Smishlyav, 64, of “disparaging the Russian military” by posting anti-war photos on the Russian Facebook page VKontakte. He was later forced to pay a fine of 30,000 rubles ($496).
Meanwhile, Chechnya war veteran and former police officer Igor Knaskov has been accused of harming the Russian military after he posted a photo on the same social networking site with the words “No War” as his profile picture.
The incompetence of the Russian elite
Most of the soldiers interviewed by the Moscow Times newspaper condemned the war as unjust and against the interests of the Russian people. All agree that their leaders are incompetent and that they are responsible for the Russian defeat. “Neither Putin nor Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has ever served in the military,” they point out.
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