Putin Uses Word Anti-War Russians Have Been Jailed For

He calls invasion of Ukraine a 'war' for first time
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 23, 2022 12:25 AM CST
Putin Calls It a 'War' for the First Time
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking during a news conference following a meeting of the State Council on implementing the youth policy in current conditions, at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022.   (Sergey Guneev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Vladimir Putin has been calling Russia's invasion of Ukraine a "special military operation," but on Thursday, the Russian president referred to it as a war for the first time. "Our goal is not to spin this flywheel of a military conflict, but, on the contrary, to end this war. This is what we are striving for," Putin said during a televised press conference. The Washington Post reports that the comment sparked a furor among anti-war Russians, many of whom have been jailed for using the word "war" to describe the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

When anti-war protests broke out after the invasion, Russia effectively made it a crime to use the term, though only critics of the government have been punished for doing so; pro-war propagandists have used the term with impunity. "Alexei Gorinov was sentenced to seven years for calling the war a war at a meeting of the council of deputies,” tweeted an exiled ally of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. “Vladimir Putin today also publicly called the war a war at his workplace. So either release Gorinov or put Putin in jail for seven years."

As CNN explains, Russia's censorship law, signed by Putin in March, criminalized the spreading of "fake" information about the Ukraine invasion. A municipal lawmaker who fled Russia due to his anti-war views tweeted, "There was no decree to end the special operation, and no war was declared. Several thousand people have already been prosecuted for such words about the war, so I’ve sent a request to the authorities to charge Putin with spreading fakes about the army.” (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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