Published On: Sat, Jan 21st, 2023

‘We’re collecting fighters’: Russia on brink of armed revolt as 1000s join anti-Putin army | World | News


Vladimir Putin has been warned that thousands of Russians are seeking to join the anti-Kremlin resistance as the threat of armed revolt in the country grows. Ilya Ponomarev is a former Russian MP and strident Putin critic, who is currently based in Kyiv. He joined Ukraine‘s Territorial Defence Force after the outbreak of war last February and has denounced Putin’s invasion in no uncertain terms.

The former Vice President of Yukos is actively attempting to bring about regime change in his native country.

To that effect, he has helped to create the Congress of People’s Deputies – a transitional parliament consisting of 59 Russian politicians opposed to the Putin regime.

The Congress will hold its second session in Poland between February 20-23, as it develops plans for a Russian future without Putin.

However, Mr Ponomarev admits that regime change in his native land is “impossible” without armed resistance.

He claimed that the anti-Putin opposition is “following the example of the De Gaul movement during World War 2” and creating its own army to help liberate his country from Putin and his elites.

Mr Ponomarev told Express.co.uk: “We are collecting fighters, we are collecting armed people who are preparing for the regime change.

“We have what is called the Freedom of Russia Legion, which is part of the Ukraine military.

“It currently consists of two battalions of Russians who are fighting on the front lines and on the most difficult part of the front – they are currently in Bakhmut – and resisting Wagner out there.

“So they receive military experience and they are very well armed.

“And we need them to grow – obviously two battalions is not enough but they are growing.”

He added: “Also we have several networks of partisans in Russia – by saying ‘we have’, I mean they exist and it’s not that I am commanding them – but they do exist.

“The scale of this resistance movement in Russia is already larger than the resistance movement was in France in World War 2.

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“There are already a 1,000 people involved in this inside Russia and we have almost 10,000 people who are waiting to join.”

The opposition activist said that most of the recruits wanted to fight in Ukraine with the Freedom of Russia Legion rather than work with the partisans

Before being allowed to do so, they have to prove themselves by carrying out acts of sabotage.

Mr Ponomarev explained: “One of the qualifying things we ask people to do is to do something in Russia to demonstrate that they are serious about being ready to fight and risk their lives in Ukraine.

“So they are also doing in Russia maybe not so important things – like these arson attacks in the military recruitment posts and acts of sabotage on the rail roads.

“There are also a growing number of attacks on pro-war activists in Russia who are helping and facilitating the war on Putin’s side.”

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Many western experts have suggested that any attempt to overthrow of Putin could lead to a new Russian civil war.

The former Russian MP believes that such a bloody scenario can be avoided by co-opting Putin’s elites.

He said: “We need to convince them they need to be on the side of change, that they would benefit from change and that is the best way to avoid a confrontation and a civil war.

“I don’t see much of prerequisites for the civil war. They may want to start it but it is all on us.”

“If we will drive the situation in an oppressive way, and would try to punish everybody and put everybody in jail and confiscate all the wealth, then yeah it may happen but I don’t think we will be in that recourse.”





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