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Councillors from Moscow and St. Petersburg call for Putin to resign

Dozens of city district councillors from Moscow and St. Petersburg have called on President Vladimir Putin to resign in an open letter published Monday. Similar appeals began to surface last week and throughout the weekend.

The open letter was published one day after the local elections, which many believe to have been fraudulent. Golos, an independent election watchdog, reported dozens of cases of ballot-stuffing, intimidation, vote buying and misrecorded votes, which predictably lead to a sweeping victory of pro-Kremlin candidates.

The call for Putin to step aside also comes in the wake of a massive counteroffensive, which forced Russian occupation forces to hastily withdraw in disarray from the Kharkiv Region.

“President Putin’s actions are detrimental to the future of Russia and its citizens,” reads the petition shared on Twitter by Ksenia Torstrem, a councillor for St. Petersburg’s Semyonovsky district. “We demand the resignation of Vladimir Putin from the position of President of the Russian Federation.”

The statement was initially signed by Ms Torstrem and 18 other councillors.

“The text of the petition is concise and does not ‘discredit’ anyone,” reads Torstrem’s tweet in a tongue-in-cheek reference to 15 years of imprisonment that one can get for “discrediting” Russian Armed Forces, specifically for claiming that they are fighting in a war in Ukraine, instead of conducting a “special military operation”.

Мундепы требуют отставки Путина

Муниципальные депутаты из 18 разных округов Москвы, Петербурга и Колпино требуют отставки Путина. Текст петиции лаконичный, никого не “дискредитирует”. Если вы мундеп и хотите присоедниться – милости просим.

— Ксения Торстрем (@kseniathorstrom) September 12, 2022

According to Torstrem, another 84 people signed the petition on Monday. “Now we will vet them,” Torstrem wrote.

On Thursday the previous week, Dmitry Palyuga, a councillor representing St. Petersburg’s Smolninskoye district (and to make it more interesting, Putin’s childhood neighbourhood), and several others announced that they intend to call on the State Duma to try Putin on charges of high treason over his invasion of Ukraine. The following day they were summoned to the police station on possible charges of “discrediting” the Russian Armed Forces but were eventually released.

On Saturday, councillors from the Moscow district of Lomonosovsky called on Putin himself to stand down, publishing their statement on the council’s website. They accused Putin of pulling Russia back into the era of the Cold War, causing the world to begin fearing Russia again due to nuclear threats made by the Kremlin, and aggression-filled rhetorics from his and his surroundings.

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