Following recent intelligence coming out of the Kremlin that the Federal Security Agency (FSB), Russia’s intelligence agency, was being purged as it was being blamed for supplying Putin with wrong information prior to their invasion of Ukraine, Putin is now calling for the cleansing of their country of “scum and traitors.”
During the Russian meeting on socioeconomic support held on March 16, Putin reiterated that their so-called special military operation in Ukraine was done to allegedly help the people of Donbas, who he claims to be suffering from genocide for the past 8 years. He described that Ukraine was treating them “in barbarous ways” with terrorist attacks during the events leading up to the invasion.
“If our troops had acted only within the people’s republics and helped them liberate their territory, it would not have been a final solution, it would not have led to peace and would not have ultimately removed the threat – to our country, this time to Russia,” the Russian President said in an attempt to rationalize the invasion of the entirety of Ukraine.
Self-Cleansing and Getting Rid Of Traitors
In a threat towards its own people, he noted that they would always be able to identify “true patriots from scum and traitors” and that these traitors would simply be spat out “like an insect in their mouth, spit them onto the pavement,” he said.
His exact words were:
“But any nation, and even more so the Russian people, will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out like an insect in their mouth, spit them onto the pavement.”
Amidst all the protests in Russia and FSB agents leaking information to Western journalists, he called for a necessary “self-detoxification” of society to strengthen their country. It was inferred that these so-called Russian traitors were affecting the country’s solidarity and that it was hampering their ability to respond to the challenges brought upon by the war.
It can be remembered that the head of the FSB’s foreign intelligence branch Fifth Service Sergey Beseda, and his deputy Anatoly Bolyukh had been placed under house arrest as they were being blamed for feeding wrong information to Putin about Ukraine prior to the invasion.
Another report by an alleged FSB whistleblower stated that the FSB was receiving a lot of flak for their failures. However, it was also said that intelligence officers had to craft assessments of Ukraine to look like Russia would win to appease Putin and other high-ranking officials.
“You have to write the analysis in a way that makes Russia the victor… Otherwise, you get questioned for not doing good work,” the whistleblower said.
Allegations of Biological Weapons
Putin claimed that there were numerous laboratories in Ukraine that were funded by the United States, which were allegedly experimenting on dangerous diseases such as coronavirus strains, anthrax, cholera, and African swine fever that were to be used as biological weapons.
Despite Russia’s claims that the laboratories were secret biological weapon labs, these are actually research institutions funded by the US, the European Union, and the World Health Organization with the goal of mitigating the threats of said diseases. These labs are also not controlled by the United States but are managed by local officials in Ukraine.
This project goes back to the Biological Threat Reduction Program of the US in 1990. Furthermore, the US Department of Defense has been working with the Ministry of Health in Ukraine since 2005 to improve the capacity of its health laboratories.
Division of Russian Society through Economic Sanctions
“The collective West is trying to divide our society using, to its own advantage, combat losses and the socioeconomic consequences of the sanctions, and to provoke civil unrest in Russia and use its fifth column in an attempt to achieve this goal,” the Russian President said.
Putin, seemingly admitting the harsh economic effects of the economic sanctions levied on them by the world, claimed that the United States and the collective West were trying to divide the Russian society through the effects of said economic sanctions.
“The lack of working capital and the unavailability or high cost of loans is among the key problems facing companies now, and the Central Bank was forced to take appropriate measures,” he explained.
According to him, the ultimate goal of the West was to destroy Russia as a whole. Putin described the economic sanctions put on Russia as an “economic blitzkrieg” to demoralize Russians and put them down as people. However, he assured his people that they would be able to adapt to the sanctions through economic restructuring.
“The Russian economy will adapt to the new realities. We will strengthen our sovereignty in science and technology, allocate additional resources to support agriculture, the processing industry, infrastructure, and housing, and continue developing foreign trade ties to tap into rapidly growing, dynamic international markets,” he explained. “I will not pretend that they will be easy or that they will not lead to a temporary increase in inflation and unemployment,” the President said.
Is Russian Society Divided?
According to a report done by the Washington Post, 58% of Russians approved the invasion of Ukraine, while 23% did not approve. 13% had no opinion on the matter, and 6% stated they were “on the fence.” These results were divided based on age, as 39% of the younger Russians aged from 18 to 24 opposed the war, while respondents aged 66 and older heavily supported the invasion.
These results come from a recently conducted poll by a group of independent research organizations through a telephone survey. To confirm the legitimacy of the survey, US polling expert Gary Langer was the one who received the results from Russian research organizations and subsequently shared them with The Washington Post.
“Considering the government control of media and information in Russia, and the natural tendency of populations around the world to rally around their leadership in times of crisis, it is surprising to see this comparatively limited level of support for Putin and his government’s actions,” Langer explained.
Despite half of the population supporting the invasion, pushback from younger Russians was seen from large protests across Moscow, with thousands of individuals being arrested in major cities. Russia has also seen a mass exodus of its own citizens fearing authoritarianism in their own country. Russian citizens were seen to be fleeing to Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Georgia, Armenia, and Turkey following the invasion.
“We feel pain, shame, horror, disgust, anger, and powerlessness. We cannot influence what [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is doing under the name of the Russian Federation, destroying both Ukraine and Russia,” said Russian journalist Boris Grozovski who fled Russia for Georgia.
“We can only resist it by being abroad … Personally, in recent years, I have lost the opportunity to work in the Russian Federation as a journalist, as a teacher, as an organizer of public lectures and discussions, and as a researcher in social sciences. It is impossible to fight this from within Russia now,” he continued.
Independent journalists have also been shut down by Moscow. Just recently, a Russian journalist, Marina Ovsyannikova, is now missing after being arrested by the authorities as she held up a sign that said “NO WAR. Stop the war. Don’t believe the propaganda. They are lying to you here,” on state television.
With Russia continuing the attack on Ukraine with no signs of stopping, Russian citizens who oppose the war continue to flee Russia in fear of their lives as they have spoken out against their government. This self-cleansing, as announced by Putin, was not discussed in detail. Therefore, it is unknown how the cleanse itself would be implemented.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, who agreed with Putin’s traitor claims, stated that many Russians were showing their “true colors.” He also gave an insight into how the cleansing would happen.
“They vanish from our lives themselves. Some people are leaving their posts. Some are leaving their active work life, some leave the country and move to other countries. That is how this cleansing happens,” Peskov explained.
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