Russia: Putin losing his grip on power says expert
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Former members of Russia’s State Duma and opposition activists gathered in Jablonna, near Warsaw, in Poland to come up with a plan to oust Putin. The three-day meeting that began on Friday saw anti-Kremlin politicians united to formulate a way to “eliminate” Putin even at the cost of a civil war in their home country.
The meeting was organised by Ilya Ponomarev, a former member of the State Duma and the only Russian MP to vote against the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.
He said: “They are legitimate representatives of the Russian nation, both the ones who came from the Russian Federation, as well as those living in exile, that have not profaned their honour by cooperation with Putin’s dictatorship and participation in its crimes.”
Opposition activist Viacheslav Maltsev, also present at the gathering, added: “The main goal is to physically eliminate Putin.”
He admitted that the consequence could be a civil war in Russia, “but not as bloody as the war in Ukraine”, he continued.
Some present at the meeting argued the only way to get rid of the Russian President would be to bear arms and kill Putin, according to Gazeta.pl.
Another politician present at the meeting also said: “The fight against terrorists requires terrorists’ methods.”
It comes as Russia has focused on striking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure over the last month, causing power shortages and rolling outages across the country. Kyiv was having hourly rotating blackouts on Sunday in parts of the city and the surrounding region.
Rolling blackouts also were planned in the Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Kharkiv and Poltava regions, Ukraine’s state-owned energy operator, Ukrenergo, said.
Kyiv plans to deploy about 1,000 heating points, but it is unclear if that would be enough for a city of three million people.
As Russia intensifies its attacks on the capital, Ukrainian forces are pushing forward in the south. Residents of Ukraine’s Russian-occupied city of Kherson received warning messages on their phones urging them to evacuate as soon as possible, Ukraine’s military said Sunday. Russian soldiers warned civilians that Ukraine’s army was preparing for a massive attack and told people to leave for the city’s right bank immediately.
Russian forces are preparing for a Ukrainian counteroffensive to seize back the southern city of Kherson, which was captured during the early days of the invasion. In September, Russia illegally annexed Kherson as well as three other regions and subsequently declared martial law in the four provinces.
The Kremlin-installed administration in Kherson already has moved tens of thousands of civilians out of the city.
Russia has been “occupying and evacuating” Kherson simultaneously, trying to convince Ukrainians that they’re leaving when in fact they’re digging in, Nataliya Humenyuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Southern Forces, told state television.
“There are defence units that have dug in there quite powerfully, a certain amount of equipment has been left, firing positions have been set up,” she said.
Russian forces are also digging in a fiercely contested region in the east, worsening the already tough conditions for residents and the defending Ukrainian army following Moscow’s illegal annexation and declaration of martial law in Donetsk province.
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The attacks have almost completely destroyed the power plants that serve the city of Bakhmut and the nearby town of Soledar, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, the region’s Ukrainian governor, said. Shelling killed one civilian and wounded three, he reported late Saturday.
“The destruction is daily, if not hourly,” Kyrylenko told state television.
Moscow-backed separatists have controlled part of Donetsk for nearly eight years before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. Protecting the separatists’ self-proclaimed republic there was one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justifications for the invasion, and his troops have spent months trying to capture the entire province.
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Between Saturday and Sunday, Russia’s launched four missiles and 19 airstrikes hitting more than 35 villages in nine regions, from Chernihiv and Kharkiv in the northeast to Kherson and Mykolaiv in the south, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office. The strikes killed two people and wounded six.
In the Donetsk city of Bakhmut, 15,000 remaining residents were living under daily shelling and without water or power, according to local media. The city has been under attack for months, but the bombardment picked up after Russian forces experienced setbacks during Ukrainian counteroffensives in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions.
The front line is now on Bakhmut’s outskirts, where mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a shadowy Russian military company, are reported to be leading the charge.
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