Former Russian parliamentarians who want to take over power after what they say will be the collapse of Vladimir Putin’s government met in Jabłonna, close to Warsaw, over the weekend.
They are all opponents of the war in Ukraine, but the gathering is not fully representative of Russia’s opposition groupings.
“In practice, it does not constitute even a part of all the strands of Russian opposition,” noted Polish journalist Michał Potocki on Twitter.
According to the portal of TV Belsat, the gathering was attended by 22 politicians. Among them was the founder of the Artpogotovka movement, regarded as an extreme nationalist group in Russia. Its founder, Vyacheslav Maltsev, was a candidate for the PARNAS opposition movement in 2016. Despite being a Russian nationalist, Maltsev is opposed to the war in Ukraine and is calling for the overthrow of the Putin government.
Maltsev said he believes that the consequence of this war will be a civil war in Russia. Other politicians in attendance included former deputy Ilya Ponomaryev, who in 2014 was the only member of the Russian Duma to vote against the annexation of Crimea and who now lives in Kyiv.
Agnieszka Legucka, an analyst at the Polish Institute for International Affairs, told the Polish Press Agency (PAP) that it was “highly debatable” the gathering in Jabłonna was a congress of a “Free Russia.”
In reality, it is a gathering of former deputies who have consistently opposed Russian actions in Ukraine. That means that politicians like Navalny and his associates are excluded, as they backed the annexation of Crimea, even though they now oppose the war in Ukraine. In addition, many of them are émigrés who have been forced to leave Russia for political reasons.