Russians Becoming Increasingly Critical of Putin

( – Russian President Vladimir Putin is facing increasing pressure from his own citizens to bring the nearly two-year-long invasion of Ukraine to an end. A group, made up mostly of mothers and wives of mobilized Russian troops, released a firm and critical message to the President on Monday, December 18, in which they demand he bring their men home. The group has gained international interest in recent weeks with its anti-war messaging, mostly put out via the “Way Home” channel on the Telegram app.

The soldiers’ relatives told the Russian leader to either “sit at the negotiating table” in order to bring hostilities to a close, or otherwise to go to the front line and fight and die for his aims. As well as the public messaging via Telegram, the group has been organizing flash mobs and vigils in order to apply pressure publicly in the run-up to the Russian elections in March 2024. As well as a desire to see their loved ones home safely, some Russians have expressed concerns over serious criminals receiving pardons for their crimes as reward for fighting on the front line.

It has been reported that Russian authorities are keen to stop the group’s protests, with the UK’s Ministry of Defense alleging that the Kremlin has attempted to bribe members of the group into silence. As well as this, the Institute for the Study of War has accused the Kremlin of creating fake Telegram accounts in order to discredit and smear the group.

While the group has made it clear to their President that they “have no faith in [his] leadership”, he has made it clear that he intends to continue with the war. Speaking on the televised “Direct Line” question and answer session on December 14, Putin reiterated that there would only be peace when Russia had achieved its aims, which he referred to as the “denazification” and “demilitarization” of Ukraine, and that he had no intention to recall Russian troops before then.

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