Only a freely elected new leadership of Russia could stop the conflict in Ukraine, said former Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov at a conference in Tartu.
Kasyanov, the head of the People's Democratic Union, an opposition party, said the Russian people will continue to back President Vladimir Putin until he is no longer seen as a winner.
To keep his popularity, Putin needs an foreign enemy, he said, adding that for Russians, the war in Ukraine is fought against the United States, not against Ukraine.
“Putin has no thoughts about creating an empire. His only thought and dream is to keep power and any means will do. Foreign enemies are great for that. It is something out of a text book for authoritarian regimes,” he said.
Kasyanov said only free and fair elections in Russia would change the course. Estonian political scientist Karmo Tüür added at the conference that elections might not solve anything as people could vote in someone more radical.
“If there is a shift in the political culture and the Russian people are really able to live freely – not under state propaganda, but can give their own meaning to what is happening and can pick who to back, then elections are a means for democratic forces to come to power,” Tüür said.
Speaking about measures against Putin, Kasyanov said sanctions is the right path, but geared towards Putin and his close supporters.
Editor: J.M. Laats