Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 2022 Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia on September 7, 2022
Sergey Bobylev/TASS Host Photo Agency/Handout via REUTERS
President Vladimir Putin is facing an increasing threat from Russian ultra-nationalist figures who are using their huge platforms on Telegram to demand a far more aggressive military mobilization in Ukraine.
For months, Putin appeared to have established broad support for the war while successfully drowning out dissent. But following a series of military defeats, culminating in the devastating rout in Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region, the president is facing pressure on multiple fronts.
Breaking with the official line, the ultra-nationalists have increasingly become a thorn in the side of Putin’s administration, causing Putin’s carefully assembled ‘power vertical’ to splinter from the inside.
Last week, Igor Girkin, a leading ultra-nationalist who led the pro-Russian separatists in 2014 trying to wrest the Donbass region from Kyiv’s control in 2014, told his 581,000 subscribers on Telegram that Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu should be executed by firing squad and that Russia should launch strikes on Ukrainian power plants.
Several people, including Girkin, have called for tactical nuclear strikes to be used on various targets in order “to drive 20 million refugees to Europe.” The tactic was encouraged again on Russia’s state-run Channel One, the leading propaganda outlet, by Igor Korotchenko, a military expert and editor of Russia’s National Defense magazine.
Others have accused the Kremlin of concealing “bad news” about how poorly the war has been going for Russia — a criticism that previously came by the left, and which has largely been denied a hearing in the heavily muzzled Russian media.
The State Duma usually rubber stamps whatever law Putin wants and is not noted for rocking the boat. So it surprised many commentators on Monday when Mikhail Sheremet, one of its members from the ruling United Russia party, said publicly that “full mobilization” in Ukraine was necessary for victory.
Igor Girkin is seen in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine on July 11, 2014.
Dmitry LovetskyAP Photo
Attacks like that have meanwhile emboldened others from across the political spectrum to speak up in a way that seemed impossible just a few months ago. Earlier this week, liberal councilors in Moscow and St. Petersburg signed a petition demanding Putin’s resignation.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has responded directly to the growing clamor and the nationalists’ anger at Russia’s retreat, saying that Russians as a whole continue to support the president.
“The …read more
Source:: Business Insider