In a shocking public rebuke of common Kremlin messaging in Russia, an official in the eastern region of Primorsky Krai spoke up during a meeting of the Legislative Assembly, calling on Vladimir Putin to withdraw troops from Ukraine. He was escorted from the meeting and called a “traitor” by the region’s governor.

Leonid Vasyukevich, a member of the Communist Party, the second-largest political faction after Putin’s United Russia party, said he spoke on behalf of four fellow party members. “We understand that if our country does not stop the military operation, there will be even more orphans in the country, Vasyukevich said in front of many local leaders in the region. “During the military operation, young people who could bring great benefit to our country die and become disabled,” he added.

The region’s governor, Oleg Kozhemyako, who was appointed to the position in 2015 by Putin himself, responded aggressively by calling him a “traitor.” Kozhemyako also echoed Putin’s talking point about the war by saying Vasyukevich was “defaming the Russian army and our defenders who are in the fight against Nazism.”

Vasyukevich’s plea was unfortunately scorned by his own party as well, with the local head of the Russian Communist party faction saying he will take “tough action” against him and colleague Gennady Shulga, who was also escorted out.


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While plenty of prominent Russians outside of the government like artists, actors and some business figures have spoken out against the Ukraine invasion, the Kremlin and its supported media channels and direct business interests have all been in lockstep over support of the war. Even if it was just in a small local assembly, it’s commendable that Vasyukevich attempted to make his dissent heard.

Putin is reportedly quite ill with claims that he has blood cancer being the most frequently mentioned.

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