“Russia needs peace. Putin must go!” – a public statement by Russian civil society figures

1 April 2022

This statement, circulated by the Congress of the Intelligentsia, as of 1 April 2022 had been signed by Lev Ponomarev, human rights activist, Viktor Shenderovich, writer, Liya Akhedzhakova, actress, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, writer, Dmitry Bykov, writer, Garri Bardin, director, Natalia Evdokimova, human rights activist and Tatiana Lazareva, television anchor

The statement was subsequently published as a petition on Change.org where it can be read here.

Russia’s so-called “military operation” against Ukraine has been going on for more than a month. A full-scale war that people in Russia are forbidden to call a war for fear of punishment. 

Everyone who truly loves Russia, speaks Russian, and wants to live here is now in genuine pain. 

According to UN reports alone, more than a thousand civilians have perished in this war already, including more than a hundred children. Approximately 4 million people have become refugees. These numbers are updated extremely slowly and never keep up with the war.

This war was unleashed against a country where many Russian citizens have relatives and friends and where millions of people speak Russian fluently. 

This is war in which indiscriminate aviation and artillery strikes are being inflicted on peaceful cities and towns. Russian-speaking Mariupol, with half a million residents, has been almost decimated. Kharkiv looks like the Kharkiv of 1943, when the Nazis bombed it. In ancient Slavic Chernihiv, barely any buildings are left standing. Irpin, Dnipro, Sumy, Lutsk, Borodianka and other towns have been mangled by war and are virtually unfit for living. 

This is a war that has split the Russians themselves, made them hate each other and flee their own country and has led to disputes among friends and even relatives. It has not solved a single problem that Russian citizens face but has only plunged them deeper into a state of lawlessness and poverty and led to the total blocking of independent media and to the persecution and prosecution of those who speak out against the war or even utter the word itself.

The war has turned Russian citizens into pariahs in the eyes of the entire civilized world. 

The unprecedented sanctions provoked by the war have not only deprived Russia of access to technologies, goods, and services but have also brought it to the brink of economic ruin.

Vladimir Putin has been ruling the country for more than twenty years.

In that time, he has managed to show himself as someone who is not used to giving in to pressure and stopping. His decisions and actions have already inflicted tremendous and irrevocable harm on the peoples of Russia and Ukraine and threatened Russia’s very existence as a state.  

As long as Vladimir Putin continues to remain in power, the war will continue. Until Russia runs out of sons, until its economy collapses. 

Hitler is not Germany, and Putin is not Russia!

We are calling for Vladimir Putin’s immediate resignation from his position as Russia’s president and for the holding of special parliamentary and presidential elections. 

For now the president still retains the possibility of resigning voluntarily. 

That decision could truly save myriad lives. 

Lev Ponomarev, human rights activist

Viktor Shenderovich, writer

Liya Akhedzhakova, actress

Lyudmila Ulitskaya, writer

Dmitry Bykov, writer

Garri Bardin, director

Natalia Evdokimova, human rights activist

Tatiana Lazareva, television anchor

Translated by Marian Schwartz

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