March 25, 2023

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Vladimir Putin’s reign is now “closer to the end”, says a Russian official

The reign of Russian President Vladimir Putin is now “closer to the end”, said a Russian official who is currently at risk of being drafted under the partial mobilization decree initialed by the Kremlin leader.

Dmitri Baltrukov, 43, is one of several municipal deputies for Smolninskoe in St. Petersburg who last month appealed to the country’s parliament to remove Putin from power amid the war in Ukraine.

The price he paid for his demand: a fine of 44,000 rubles ($758) for “discrediting” the Russian military, and now the official has been ordered to enlist and fight in Ukraine, which he considers that it is a deliberate attempt to “get rid” of him, given that he does not meet the criteria of the Ministry of Defense to be incorporated.

Baltrukov told Newsweek that workers from the military enlistment office and police came to his home, where his mother was, on Sunday to hand him a summons, despite the fact that he has no military experience. The deputy, who was on a business trip when authorities visited his home, said he ignored orders to report to the local enlistment office.

The official said he believes Putin is “certainly closer to the end of his power” since he announced the partial mobilization of the population.

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Putin’s September 21 recruitment order reportedly targeted 300,000 reservists and ex-servicemen with “certain military specialties and relevant experience”.

But those ineligible to be drafted, including students, the elderly and those with medical conditions and injuries, have also received a call-up to fight in Ukraine.

Putin’s announcement sparked nationwide protests and a mass exodus of Russians who fled across the border to neighboring countries including Georgia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and elsewhere to avoid being drafted.

At least a hundred thousand Russians voted ‘with their feet’ after leaving the country. I see a lot of words of support for my anti-war stance. But we must understand that now there is an atmosphere of fear in Russia. The fact that people speak out against war is extremely dangerousBaltrukov stated.

Baltrukov said he sees “a clear trend” of declining support for the war Putin launched against Ukraine on February 24 among Russians.

In September, he and other MPs from the area called for Putin to be removed from power over the war in Ukraine. This marked the most significant demonstration of opposition since the beginning of the war.

I chose the situation in my district to be its deputy, and when the deputies of the State Duma (the Russian parliament) do not express the opinions of the residents of my district, who should speak?Baltrukov stated.

This is unexpected, but one should expect that I will find a future for myself and my children with Russia. But it must be a free and democratic country, it is worth fighting for. I defend my freedom and the freedom of the Russian people“, the official also said, explaining why he chose to speak out against Putin and the war, knowing the consequences he could face.

Baltrukov said that despite being drafted to fight in Ukraine, he would continue to call for Putin’s removal from power.

I will continue to express my opinion as an MP who has already been found beaten, blown up, taken to the police, fined, threatened with a criminal case, in this context, what is the order of the day…well, one more trying to put pressure on me, and nothing more“, he added.

Russia “has no chance of winning” the war in Ukraine, Baltrukov said, adding:There is no Russian leadership, for them, this is the end of their power“.

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