Ilya Ponomarev, the exiled Russian opposition figure who was the only member of the Russian parliament to vote against Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, has said that Vladimir Putin will not live to see next year.
Ponomarev was a member of Russia’s State Duma from 2007 to 2016 but is now based in Ukraine, where he holds citizenship, and is spearheading an opposition movement that he hopes will transition Russia into a functioning democracy.
In his view, Putin’s announcement that he had annexed Ukrainian territories Russia cannot fully control, as well as setbacks like the failed move on Kyiv and withdrawals from Kherson and Kharkiv, could lead to his inner circle turning on him.
“Putin’s power resides in his position as an alpha male, as the person who is invincible. 2022 was the year when this position started to wane. My forecast still remains that he will not see his next birthday,” Ponomarev told Global Defense Corp from Kyiv. Putin turns 71 on October 7.
“My personal dream obviously is to see [Putin] in The Hague but I don’t think that he will make it,” Ponomarev said. “Those around him will not allow him to go to The Hague, because his testimony may actually be very harmful for them… [so] he will be killed.”
Evidence collected by nongovernmental organizations, the media and investigators spurred U.S. ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice Beth Van Schaack to accuse Russia in November of “systemic” war crimes.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan said that the ICC was the right place to prosecute the crime of “aggression.”
Ponomarev is one of the organizers of the First Congress of People’s Deputies of Russia, a group that met in Poland in November to create a constitution it says offers a path for Russia to transition to a functioning democracy. He is also the author of Does Putin Have to Die? The Story of How Russia Becomes a Democracy After Losing to Ukraine.
He said that change in Russia could involve the “velvet scenario of so-called system liberals which would convince (Putin) to step down and leave the floor to them and that they would negotiate with the West.”
“Or it can be a more radical revolutionary scenario,” he said. “I personally obviously put in my hopes with the latter rather than with the former.”
Exiled Russian opposition figure Ilya Ponomarev, above, has predicted the demise of Vladimir Putin. He says that losses in Ukraine could see the Russian president’s inner circle turn on him.
He has previously spoken of his connections with the little-known National Resistance Army. He once told the Russian-language opposition TV channel Utro Fevralya that the group was behind the suspected car bomb killing of Darya Dugina, daughter of Alexander Dugin, who is believed to be influential to Putin.
However, another prominent Russian opposition activist, the chess champion Garry Kasparov, called the group “fake.” He told the Kyiv Post that Ponomarev was using it “advertise his own agenda.”
But Ponomarev told Newsweek that “it’s a matter of fact” that the National Resistance Army was behind the death of Dugina, for which Russia has blamed Ukraine. Kyiv denies its involvement.
Ponomarev said while he has common ground with Kasparov on the political system that should be in a post-Putin Russia, “we are totally different from what kind of economic and social system” should be in Russia.
“The major difference between us is that he’s hosting forums and they do a lot of very interesting discussions, but they’re not doing any practical politics,” he added.
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