Kremlin overthrows official who called Ukraine war a ‘disaster’


The Kremlin removed Natalia Poklonskaya from her role in government on Monday, just weeks after she became one of the few Russian officials to criticize its ongoing invasion of Ukraine in the latest sign of the Russian government’s crackdown on war dissent.


Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree announcing the ousting of Poklonskaya as deputy head of Russia’s foreign outreach agency Rossotrudnichestvo after just four months in the post, she shared in a message from Telegram.

Poklonskaya said her departure was so she could take up a new job, and there is no explicit reason given in the executive order for her dismissal – but the timing is likely related to her comments about the invasion.

In April, Ukrainian-born Poklonskaya called the war a “catastrophe”, according to the Moscow timeand she exposed the tragedy of the invasion in an April 19 viral interview that has over 300,000 views on YouTube.

Poklonskaya also spoke out against the famous Russian pro-war symbol “Z”, calling it a sign of “tragedy and sorrow for Russia and Ukraine”, which led Rossotrudnichestvo leader Yevgeny Primakov to quickly defend the letter.

crucial quote

“People are dying, homes and whole towns are being destroyed. [leaving] millions of refugees,” Poklonskaya said in April, according to the Moscow Times. Bodies and souls are mutilated. My heart bursts with pain. My two native countries are killing each other, that’s not what I wanted and that’s not what I want.

Key Context

A former Ukrainian government official, Poklonskaya has held several positions for Russia since it forcibly annexed Crimea to Ukraine in 2014, first serving as the region’s chief prosecutor. She was a member of Russia’s State Duma from 2016 to 2021 before becoming the country’s ambassador to Cape Verde in 2021, a position she gave up to work for Rossotrudnichestvo. Russia has stifled any criticism of its war in Ukraine, making it a crime punishable by 15 years in prison for going against the government-sanctioned narrative of the war. Few government workers dared to speak out, although state television worker Marina Ovsyannikov protested the invasion on air in March and a small group of lawmakers from Russia’s Primorye region protested. called on Putin to end the invasion last month.

Surprising fact

Amid her notoriety in international coverage of the 2014 annexation of Crimea, Poklonskaya has become an unlikely sensation among anime fans. Her Telegram profile picture is an animated rendering of her with a Russian flag.

Further reading

Ex-Crimean prosecutor Poklonskaya denounces Russia’s pro-war ‘Z’ symbol (Moscow Times)

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