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Putin Opposition Calls Ukraine War a ‘Dead End,’ Urges Peace

Grigory Yavlinsky, a Russian opposition politician and founder of Moscow’s last liberal party, is calling for a ceasefire in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, describing it as a “dead end.”

“I want a ceasefire to happen before thousands and thousands of people are killed,” Yavlinsky told Newsweek in a phone interview from Moscow. On Tuesday, Ukraine reported that over 1,000 Russians had been killed the day prior, bringing Moscow’s total losses since the start of the invasion to 154,830.

Yavlinsky, 70, the founder of the Yabloko party, has vocalized his opposition to Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine since the conflict began last February. He has described the war, for his nation, as “akin to a self-imposed nuclear strike.”

The official, who has twice run against Putin in presidential elections, said that regardless of so-called “gains and victories,” the war would end with “a heap of corpses” and nobody would ever forgive either Putin or Russia. He has also described the conflict as a “crime against humanity” that would represent a “massive leap forward towards Russia’s liquidation as a state in the 21st century.”

On the eve of the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Yabloko held a concert marathon under the slogan “Say Yes to the Peace!” during which 45 videos were shown where Yabloko members nationwide detailed their struggles throughout the year of war.

Yavlinsky gave an opening speech, saying that “today, Russia is being adjusted to Vladimir Putin’s reality.”

His opposition to the war has come at a cost, however. There have been numerous attempts by those who support the conflict to liquidate Yabloko, a social-liberal party that has deputies in four regional parliaments: Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Pskov region and Karelia.

State-run news agency RIA Novosti reported on March 7 that a member of Russia’s State Duma, Nikolai Novichkov, sent an appeal to the country’s Minister of Justice Konstantin Chuichenko with a proposal to consider the possibility of filing a lawsuit in court to liquidate the party “Due to possible signs of extremist activities.”

“It first happened in April, last year, and then it happens all the time. It’s very difficult even to calculate how many times,” Yavlinsky told Newsweek. “There are a lot of people…who are just supporting the current regime…and attacking the people who are not supporting the war, like Yabloko—organized political structures, which are against the war. They are trying to destroy this structure, they don’t want this structure to exist.”

Although the Yabloko party currently has “no political dialogue” with the Kremlin, Yavlinsky is persisting with his efforts to call for a ceasefire in the conflict, which passed the one-year mark on February 24.

“It’s necessary to do it as soon as possible,” said Yavlinsky. “I think that nobody’s winning. This is a dead end, okay? This is a dead end, nobody can win in that kind of situation.”

“That’s why I’m saying that a ceasefire is necessary. And it’s necessary to stop killing people. Because there are no positive developments. There is no positive future.”

In January, 11 months into the war, Putin instructed his Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to impose a ceasefire in Ukraine ahead of Orthodox Christmas, which is celebrated on January 7. Days later, Ukrainian officials said Russian military forces attacked parts of eastern Ukraine despite Putin’s 36-hour cease-fire order.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed the ceasefire call, suggesting Russia wanted to “use Christmas as a cover to at least briefly stop the advance of our guys in Donbas and bring equipment, ammunition and mobilized men closer to our positions.”

“What will this bring? Just another increase in the death toll,” he said in a video address.

The sincerity of Putin’s ceasefire was also questioned by United States officials. “We have little faith in the intentions behind this announcement,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters at the time.

Yavlinsky described the year since the war began as “the most difficult and painful year” in his life. When asked whether he has concerns about speaking publicly against Putin, the politician said he tries not to think about it, “otherwise, it would not be possible to work.”

“I was an opponent of Putin in presidential elections twice, and there were millions of people which were voting for me. So it’s my obligation to say the truth and to say what I think, especially in that dangerous situation,” he said. “What will be the consequences? We’ll see.”

Newsweek reached out to Russia’s foreign ministry via email for comment.

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Grigory Yavlinsky, a Russian opposition politician and founder of Moscow’s last liberal party, is calling for a ceasefire in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, describing it as a “dead end.”

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