A Russian politician broke ranks when he publicly called on President Vladimir Putin to stop the war in Ukraine and immediately withdraw the troops, according to a report.
Leonid Vasyukevich, a member of Russia’s Communist Party (CPRF), was ejected from the Legislative Assembly of Primorsky Krai in the east of the country and threatened with “harsh measures” for speaking out against the war in a rare show of dissent on Friday, the independent Russian-language news side MediaZone reported.
In a video from the meeting that was shared on Russian news and social media sites, Vasyukevich stood up and declared that he was speaking on behalf of four members of his party.
He began by referring to a recent vote in support of families of soldiers who had been killed during the three-month war in Ukraine, which is officially known in Russian as a “special military operation.”
“We understand that if our country does not stop the special operation, there will be even more orphans,” Vasyukevich said.
Despite repeated attempts by Aleksandr Rolik, president of the assembly, to silence Vasyukevich and drown out his remarks by speaking over him, the rebellious official continued.
“In the course of the [special] operation, young people, who otherwise could have brought enormous benefits to our country, are killed or become disabled,” he said.
Vasyukevich argued that continuing the military “operation would lead to the inevitable increase in the number of dead and wounded service members.”
He concluded by saying: “We demand the immediate withdrawal of the Russian forces from Ukraine.”
After Vasyukevich’s outburst, he and his colleague Gennady Shulga were escorted out of the meeting and barred from voting during the assembly session, MediaZona reported.
Oleg Kozhemyako, governor of Primorsky Krai who was present during the meeting, labeled Vasyukevich a “traitor” and accused him of “defaming the Russia army and our defenders, who are in the fight against Nazism.”
Anatoly Dolgachev, the head of the Communist Party in the regional parliament, quickly sought to distance his organization from Vasyukevich, claiming that his “demarche” had been unsanctioned, and said that his comments “besmirch the honor of the CPRF.”
He promised to assess Vasyukevich’s actions and take “harsh measures” against him.