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Former Russian Lawmaker Says He’s Fighting Alongside Ukrainian Troops

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A former member of the Russian legislative meeting is combating alongside Ukrainian troops within the struggle waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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

“What else may I do underneath these circumstances?” he mentioned. “When Putin’s forces had been advancing, we wanted to defend the nation. We would have liked to defend the capital.”

Ponomarev was the one lawmaker to vote in opposition to Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian area of Crimea in 2014. The vote handed 445-1.

Ponomarev mentioned he’s been warned that he’s on a Russian hit record, however that hasn’t stopped him from eager to combat. He believes Putin is dropping the struggle, although the president could attempt to declare an “imaginary victory,” he added.

“The fact is that he’s dropping the struggle. And I feel that the Ukrainian military and the Ukrainian folks wouldn’t cease earlier than Ukraine definitely shall be free,” he mentioned. “And I imagine it should.”

He mentioned what Ukraine wants most now’s clear skies. Many Ukrainian officers, together with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have referred to as for enforcement of a no-fly zone over the nation to attempt to repel airstrikes which have focused each the army and civilians.

Western powers have resisted implementing one over considerations it may provoke open battle with Russia, with the potential to evolve right into a nuclear struggle.

Throughout his time in workplace, Ponomarev ran afoul of his colleagues and the Kremlin by speaking out against government corruption. In 2012, he led antigovernment avenue protests that rattled Moscow earlier than Putin’s return to the presidency.

He was exiled from Russia and stripped of his legislative immunity from prosecution inside a couple of months of voting in opposition to the annexation of Crimea.