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Lev Ponomarev, one of the founders of the Russian NGO Memorial, has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, as has the Belarusian activist Ales Beliatski and the Ukrainian NGO Center for Civil Liberties. Leader of the “For human rights” movement, Lev Ponomarev left Russia in June, after denouncing the war in Ukraine. He applied for political asylum in France. He believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin is losing the war.
Lev Ponomarev believes that the Nobel Prize should have gone to those who fight against the war and are in prison, such as opponents Alexei Navalny, Ilia Yachine or Vladimir Kara-Mourza. The latter has just been awarded the Vaclav-Havel Prize for Human Rights 2022.
Even if he says he does not always agree with him in terms of ideas, Lev Ponomarev believes that Navalny is “a hero”. According to him, Russia under Vladimir Putin is a “quasi-totalitarian” state, with laws that resemble those of the Soviet era. Lev Ponomarev estimates that more than half of Russians oppose the war in Ukraine, based on surveys he says he allowed. However, the repression is such that people are afraid to express their refusal, he adds.
Lev Ponomarev says that as early as February 24, 2022, the very day of the invasion of Ukraine, he launched a request against the war and was arrested, thus becoming the target of criminal proceedings. “I am not Navalny’s age, so I decided to leave,” he explains. Everyone who opposes Putin is considered an “enemy agent”, which is very dangerous and can lead to heavy prison sentences.
Lev Ponomarev believes that Putin is losing and calls on Westerners to offer “counter-propaganda” as in Soviet times. “I’m sure the Putin era will soon be over,” he said, warning that this would not mean the end of fascism in Russia.