<h3 style=”font-weight: 400;”>Is it time to take up arms in Russia to overthrow Putin? Does a chess genius and a rich man in exile hold the recipe for political change? Will the changes come from an imprisoned opposition leader?</h3>
That’s what some in Russia, and outside Russia, are wondering these days. The reason is the war in Ukraine, which has been going on for over a year now. Putin didn’t care when it was remembered that a year had passed since the start of the Russian invasion. The reason is that he had nothing to brag about, Russia has not achieved any significant success in the war over the past few months and with the Russian elite and as many ordinary citizens are beginning to show signs dissatisfaction with the war. But it is still too early to speak of a political crisis in the Kremlin.
But part of the Russian opposition is beginning to show hope, and in recent weeks many of its leaders, many of whom are in exile or in Russian prisons, have voiced their ideas for a Russia without Putin.
The most radical idea comes from Ilja Ponomarev, a former MP, who fled Russia in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea to Russia. He was the only member of the Russian parliament to vote against annexation. Soon after, he was forced to flee the country in a hurry and headed for the United States. He has been living in Ukraine for a few years.
He operates a YouTube channel and website where he speaks on behalf of Russian activists who claim to be fighting the Russian war machine. He claims to be the spokesman for a group calling itself the “Army of the Russian Republic”. In an interview with Spektr Press, he said the band asked him to organize media coverage of himself and raise awareness of what’s going on, to tell the world what’s being done and why.
Many commentators and experts doubt Ponomarev’s involvement in the actions of this militant group and, in general, the prospects for an armed struggle inside Russia. But Ponomarev enjoys the support of certain groups in Ukraine and Poland.
But there is more to the warm-up than Ponomarev as Garry Kasparov, a former world chess champion and advocate of liberal ideas, and Mikhail Khodorkosvky, a former billionaire, recently published an article in the American magazine Foreign Affairs. There, they suggested the West throw all caution overboard regarding the Kremlin in the war in Ukraine. “If the West stands firm, Putin’s regime will likely collapse in the near future,” they wrote.
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