More than 150 senior Russian officials have signed an open letter condemning president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as ‘an unprecedented atrocity’ and warning of ‘catastrophic consequences’.
The officials said they were ‘convinced’ Russian citizens do not back the war and blamed Putin ‘personally’ for ordering troops into Ukraine in an attack ‘for which there is no and cannot be justification’.
Putin in the early hours of Thursday, February 24 gave the order to attack, delivering an extraordinary address to the Russian nation in which he declared a ‘special military operation’ to ‘de-militarise’ and ‘de-Nazify’ Ukraine .
Missiles and bombs rained from the sky, tanks rolled across the border, troops parachuted down on eastern regions and explosions were seen across the country and a war is currently going on between Ukraine and Russia.
But the letter by the officials urged Russians ‘not to participate in the aggression’ and called on citizens to speak out against the invasion because ‘only massive popular condemnation can stop the war’.
Among the letter’s signatories were Moscow deputies Elena Rusakova, Maxim Gongalsky, Andrey Morev, Elena Kotenochkina and Elena Filina as well as St Petersburg officials David Kuvaev and Polina Sizova and Veliky Novgorod deputy Anna Cherepanova.
It was a rare step for Russian officials to speak out against Putin, who usually holds an iron grip on dissent.
On Thursday about 1500 Russians were imprisoned after coming out on the streets of Moscow to protest Russia’s unwarranted attacks on Ukraine.
The letter, which described the signatories as those ‘elected by the people’, said they ‘unreservedly condemn the attack of the Russian army on Ukraine’.
‘This is an unprecedented atrocity for which there is no and cannot be justification. The decision to attack was made personally by Russian President Vladimir Putin. We are convinced that the citizens of Russia did not give him such a mandate.’
The letter warned of ‘catastrophic consequences’ – ‘Thousands of people will die, be injured and maimed, cities dear to many Russians will be destroyed.’
It said Russia would face ‘the condemnation of the world community’ resulting in ‘isolation, rising prices and poverty’.
‘Hopes for a good life in Russia are crumbling before our eyes,’ the letter added.
‘We urge you not to participate in the aggression and not to approve of it. Please don’t be silent: only massive popular condemnation can stop the war.’