Putin facing underground resistance from former Kremlin ally

Putin on the alleged Ukrainian attack in western Russia

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Ilya Ponomarev, the former deputy of Russia’s Parliament, or Duma, has been living in exile in Ukraine since the Duma impeached him in 2016. He has since then taken the fight to Putin directly but from afar. Since the war in Ukraine began in February last year, Mr Ponomarev has funded a platform for having conversations with experts, analysts, and intellectuals. He and his colleagues are united in bringing down the Russian President, by infiltrating those who live in Russia’s media channels, those who he says have been moulded to have no opinion on the conflict, those who have become submissive to the 70-year-old leader for decades.

Mr Ponomarev — who is now a member of the Congress of People’s Duties of Russia, a “Parallel Parliament” — founded February Morning, a Russian language channel operating from Kyiv last year.

The media outlet’s affiliated Telegram, Rospartizan, has shared advice on how to make bombs and tips on how to avoid being spied on by the FSB.

February Morning posted a video in August 2022 showing Mr Ponomarev reading the National Republican Army’s (NRA) manifesto — a group working to overthrow Putin from inside Russia — which turned out to be its most viewed on YouTube.

It revealed that the NRA’s “purpose” was to stop the “destruction of Russia and its neighbours” as well as “a bunch of Kremlin businessmen who have sucked in riches of our people” and committed crimes “inside and outside” the country.

Mr Ponomarev works with a team of Russian and Ukrainian journalists to release videos and articles online to get through to those living under Putin’s authoritarian regime.

He vehemently believes Putin, who he describes as a “talented manipulator” will be brought down before his birthday on October 7 this year.

Mr Ponomarev, who authored the 2022 book, Does Putin Have to Die? told Express.co.uk in February that the Russian people blindly follow whoever is their leader at that moment, but that this is something that must change.

He explained that Russians have been told to not meddle with politics and to surrender to whatever they are told.

Many Russians who oppose Putin, authoritarianism, or the war in Ukraine have chosen to leave Russia. According to statistics published by the Washington Post in February, between 500,000 and one million people have fled since the war broke out.

Mr Ponomarev said: “Discussions about what Russians would say about a regime change are absolutely useless because I think that right now it’s very clear that the majority of the society would praise whatever leader comes to power. If it were our Congress, they would praise our Congress.”

Similarly, Gennady Gudkov, a Russian politician who was described by the Moscow Times in 2012 as “one of parliament’s most vocal and charismatic critics”, is a long-time critic of Putin.

Mr Gudkov, who was also a KGB officer and served in the Duma from 2001 to 2012, hit out at the Russian leader when appearing on February Morning on March 9.


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He is now a member of the Congress of People’s Duties of Russia, and told February Morning that Putin is a constant threat to the entirety of civilisation.

He said: “This is a man who has gone beyond the limits of adequacy, any norms of morality, international law, beyond normal human behaviour. Such a person is gripped by the mania of communication.

“He believes that the West has betrayed him. To leave such a person in power, armed with 6,000 nuclear warheads, is insane. It’s worse than a monkey with a grenade. This is a crazy man with a nuclear bomb in his hand.”

He said the “international community” will only topple him by planning a way to end Putinism, as he believes hoping for a Russian military defeat is “pointless”. He added: “If we don’t solve it, there will be no peace.”

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