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Vladimir Putin announced the results of recent referendums held in the occupied areas of Ukraine. Under the fire of Russian artillery and bayonets of the Russian security apparatus, residents of several parts of Ukraine declared that they dreamed of nothing more than joining Russia.
Polish historians will immediately recall another referendum, held in 1940, when the residents of the city of Białystok expressed their dream of becoming part of the Soviet Union. Such self-styled referendums are an important part of the despotic and totalitarian Russian tradition.
Putin has often spoken of fascists in Kyiv. A Polish poet, intuitively predicting the future, wrote that "fascists change their shirts". The Great-Russian fascists are worth keeping an eye on. Their shirts may be red or black, but they are always stained with the blood of murdered people. Their policy is to force the world to surrender to Russia’s ruthless power. The world is now learning the hard way what Putin is trying to achieve.
It is high time to proceed with the denazification of the Kremlin. A democratic Russia, one that is free of imperialist ambitions, is what the world needs. Putin's Russia, full of lies and violence, threatens the entire world and democracy everywhere.
Putin's speech following the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories at times seemed like a monologue written by Gogol about an officer's widow who flogged herself. It would all be very funny if it weren't so sad, as my Russian colleagues say.
In fact, Putin's address was a clumsy imitation of Hitler's speeches about the persecution of Germans in Czechoslovakia and Poland, or Stalin's speeches about his love of freedom and peace. This grim and grotesque spectacle will not convince anyone that Putin is but a cynical thug. He is pretending to wage a new Patriotic War against Hitler and claims that Ukraine has invaded Russia. Not so long ago, we heard that Russia was invaded by the all-powerful Georgia.
Putin wants to bend reality to his liking. He sincerely believes that another one of his decrees will change anything. Paradoxically, he is somewhat right. He took yet another step that helps to convince the world that his regime, the Putin regime, should be annihilated. Putin aimed to destroy democratic Ukraine, but step by step he is destroying Putin's Russia instead. Reasonable Russian citizens resist his madness, refuse to die for his paranoid buffoonery, and flee abroad. Lenin once spoke of voting with one’s feet. Today Russians are voting with their feet, fleeing Putin's wonderland.
Putin cannot win this war. It must be clear to the Polish political class that our place is on the side of Ukraine until Ukraine wins.
Let's do what it takes, and it will be what it can be.
Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing Russian invasion in Ukraine. Our journalists are on the front lines in 32 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.
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