Ilya Ponomarev, a staunch advocate for regime change in Moscow, proudly displays a "new Russia" flag on his lapel, symbolizing his commitment to transformation.
Ponomarev, currently residing in exile in Kyiv, Ukraine, and having faced political repercussions for opposing the annexation of Crimea in 2014, is determined to lead a movement against Putin from afar.
In a recent interview with The U.S. Sun in London, he revealed his efforts to coordinate a volunteer campaign through a "shadow cabinet" known as the Congress of People’s Deputies, which meets in Poland. Their common goal is to counter what Ponomarev labels as "Putinism," equating it to "modern-day fascism."
Acknowledging the dangers involved, Ponomarev maintains a vigilant stance, even keeping a machine gun by his bedside. He is aware of the risks faced by Putin's opponents, referencing instances such as the poisoning of ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
Ponomarev, who had conversations with Litvinenko before his death, recounts being advised to psychologically accept being at war and draws parallels to World War II.
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While recent protests in Russian streets over the imprisonment of a human rights activist have gained attention, Ponomarev contends that other actions against Russia, such as a railway tunnel explosion in late November 2023, were meticulously “planned for months.”
He points to the existence of the "Freedom of Russia Legion," an independent resistance force formed after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which he claims has carried out numerous attacks beyond his control.
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Ponomarev sees the possibility of substantial change at the Kremlin originating from the top, acknowledging the challenges posed by Putin, who he said is a “Godfather-style mafia boss.”
While Ponomarev believes a military coup could be popular, especially considering the momentum of the armed forces despite losses in Ukraine, he warns against the potential "evil evolution" of power if Russia's security council were to remove Putin. This council, composed of former members of the KGB, shares historical ties with Putin.
In pursuit of what he deems the "only positive scenario" to eradicate Putinism, Ponomarev emphasizes the need for support from Ukraine's military, asserting that “people are ready to strike.”
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