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Putin described the Russian-Ukrainian conflict as a “war” for the first time, and was suspected of violating the law and was accused by opposition politicians

Profile photo - Putin said terrorist accomplices stabbed in the back.
Profile photo – Putin said terrorist accomplices stabbed in the back.

WASHINGTON — A political figure in St. Petersburg, Russia, asked prosecutors to investigate Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “illegal” use of the word “war” to describe the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, accusing Putin of directly violating laws he had made himself.

Since Putin invaded Ukraine in February, he has used the term “special military operation” to describe the Russian army’s aggression in Ukraine. In an effort to crack down on and silence anti-war voices, Putin enacted and signed a law in March imposing hefty fines and long prison terms for spreading “deliberate disinformation” about the Russian armed forces, especially if someone uses the word “war” to describe the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

But Putin himself violated the law he had enacted and signed in a statement to reporters on Thursday (December 22), directly calling the conflict in Ukraine a “war.”

“Our goal is not to turn the flywheel of military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war,” Putin said.

According to Reuters and CNN, Nikita Yuferev, an opposition member of the St. Petersburg City Council, formally filed a legal complaint in response to Putin’s latest statement, asking prosecutors to investigate Putin’s illegal speech. He said his legal challenge to Putin was likely to go nowhere, but he decided to file a lawsuit to expose the “absurdity” of the system.

“I did this to attract the contradictions and injustices to me about the laws he adopted and signed but that he himself did not follow,” Mr. Yuferov told Reuters.

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“I think the more we talk about it, the more people will question his integrity and the myth that he never makes mistakes, and the less support he will get.”

Yuferov has strong opposition to the war in Ukraine. He has fled Russia for fear of reprisals from Putin’s government. By publishing an open letter, Yuferov asked Russia’s prosecutor general and interior minister to “hold (Putin) accountable in accordance with the law for spreading false information about the actions of the Russian army.”

In an interview with Reuters, Yuferov specifically asked not to reveal where he is currently located. He said many of Putin’s opponents have been severely cracked down on and punished by the authorities for publicly calling the war a war.

Opposition politician Ilya Yashin was sentenced earlier this month to eight-and-a-half years in prison on charges of spreading “false information” about the military. Another opposition member of the local council, Alexei Gorinov, was sentenced in July by a Russian court to seven years in prison for denouncing Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

Yuferov said that in fact, the Putin administration has also used the word “war” illegally by high-level officials in the past, and he has also reminded the authorities about this in the past. Those who illegally use the word “war” include Seigei Kiriyenko, first deputy director of the Russian president’s office, and Sergey Mironov, chairman of the pro-Kremlin Justice Russia party.

Yuferov noted that Russian police told him they had investigated his allegations against Kiriyenko, but found nothing inappropriate about his words and actions. The police also refused to investigate Mironov’s case.

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Yuferov told Reuters that he received hundreds of hate messages soon after he published an open letter about Putin’s illegal remarks. But he believes that the vast majority of Russians know what is happening in Ukraine.

“War is a scary word in Russian society. Everyone’s grandparents went through WWII, and everyone remembered the saying ‘anything is okay, but never war,'” Yuferov said.

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