More and more Russian officials are urging Vladimir Putin to get the hell out of the Kremlin as Moscow suffered another series of humiliating defeats in Ukraine this weekend.
Just one day after several municipal deputies in Putin’s hometown of St. Petersburg called on the State Duma to try the Russian leader for treason, their colleagues in Moscow joined in and demanded he step down because his views are “hopelessly outdated.”
The open letter to Putin from municipal deputies in the Russian capital’s Lomonosovsky district started out by seemingly trying to let him down gently, telling him he had “good reforms” in his first term and part of his second.
But then, “everything went wrong,” the deputies said.
“The rhetoric that you and your subordinates use has been riddled with intolerance and aggression for a long time, which in the end effectively threw our country back into the Cold War era. Russia has again begun to be feared and hated, we are once again threatening the whole world with nuclear weapons,” the letter read.
“We ask you to relieve yourself of your post due to the fact that your views and your governance model are hopelessly outdated and hinder the development of Russia and its human potential,” the deputies said in closing.
Though they made no mention of the war against Ukraine, their plea came as Putin’s deranged “special military operation” next door took a spectacular nosedive, with thousands of Russian forces fleeing as Ukraine’s military launched a series of surprise counter-offensives and reclaimed nearly 400 square miles of territory in a matter of days.
Even as Russian defense officials sought to play down the mass surrender as nothing more than a strategic maneuver, it was clearly not perceived that way even by many of Putin’s most loyal cronies.
The same Russian propagandists who’d spent the first six months of the war thumping their chests about a supposedly “inevitable victory” suddenly changed their tune. Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of RT who’d repeatedly called for Moscow to mercilessly obliterate Ukraine, suddenly posted a sentimental screed on Twitter calling for unity between the two nations.
“In this situation, the best picture of the future is the overall picture of the past. Our shared past, recent. When everyone was together, when there was Victory Day, when there was a parade, when both Russian and Ukrainian were taught,” she wrote, waxing nostalgic over a time when “wonderful songs were sung both in one language and the other.”
Even the pro-Kremlin Telegram channels run by Russian military bloggers had a dramatic change of tune as Ukraine claimed new wins Saturday: They began to openly blast military leadership—and Putin personally—for the embarrassing failures.
“Stalin, as much of a vampire as he was, never stooped to this and said how we lost nothing and there are no problems,” wrote one pro-Kremlin blogger. “For him, those who cowardly run away and ‘withdraw troops’ were the alarmists.”