Former Russian lawmaker says he is fighting alongside Ukrainian troops

A former member of the Russian Legislative Assembly is fighting alongside Ukrainian troops in the war led by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ilya Ponomarev, a Putin critic from Siberia who served in Russia’s State Duma from 2007 to 2016, told CNN’s Jake Tapper how he ended up fighting with Ukrainian forces in kyiv. He has lived in the Ukrainian capital since 2016.

“What else could I do in these circumstances?” ” he said. “When Putin’s forces advanced, we had to defend the country. We had to defend the capital.

Ponomarev was the only lawmaker to vote against Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014. The vote passed 445 to 1.

Ponomarev said he was warned he was on a Russian blacklist, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to fight. He believes Putin is losing the war, although the president may try to claim an “imaginary victory”, he added.

“The reality is that he is losing the war. And I think that the Ukrainian army and the Ukrainian people will not stop until Ukraine is definitely free,” he said. “And I believe it will.”

He said what Ukraine needed most now was clear skies. Many Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have called for a no-fly zone over the country to try to repel airstrikes that have targeted both military and civilians.

Western powers resisted its implementation, fearing it would provoke an open conflict with Russia, which could escalate into nuclear war.

During his tenure, Ponomarev clashed with his colleagues and the Kremlin by exposing government corruption. In 2012, he led anti-government street protests that rocked Moscow ahead of Putin’s return to the presidency.

He was exiled from Russia and stripped of his legislative immunity from prosecution a few months after he voted against the annexation of Crimea.


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