Two Russian lawmakers have been thrown out of the Communist Party after they called on President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine. Leonid Vasyukevich and Gennady Shulga were dropped from the party’s faction in the regional parliament, Newsweek reported.
Both the lawmakers were branded traitors after their comments last Friday during a meeting of the legislative assembly of the Primorsky region in eastern Russia.
It was a rare public show of dissent against Mr Putin who has largely enjoyed the public loyalty of the country’s political parties and government officials despite thousands of people having been killed and wounded during Russia’s ongoing military campaign in Ukraine.
Mr Vasyukevich appealed to the Russian President to stop the war and withdraw his troops from Ukraine, adding that he was speaking on behalf of three Communist Party colleagues: Shulga, Natalya Kochugova and Aleksandr Sustov.
“If our country does not halt the military operation then there will be even more orphans in our country,” lawmaker Leonid Vasyukevich read from the statement, according to a video of the meeting.
As he read the appeal, several lawmakers and the governor of the region, Oleg Kozhemyako, tried to silence him.
Kozhemyako accused Vasyukevich of “tarnishing” the reputation of the Russian army.
Russian artists, media figures and several business tycoons have spoken out against the Kremlin’s offensive in Ukraine that has led to a barrage of unprecedented Western sanctions against Moscow.
But after three months of the hostilities, there has been no apparent outbreak of dissent from within Putin’s inner circle or top officials.
Russia has adopted legislation that could see people imprisoned for up to 15 years for discrediting the Russian military.