Human rights, foreign policy, and legal experts are delivering warnings after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “natural and necessary cleansing” of his own country to “spit out like flies” the “bastards and traitors.”
Putin declared on Wednesday that “any people, the Russian people, especially, are able to distinguish true patriots from bastards and traitors and will spit them out,” referring to Russians who oppose him and the Kremlin, according to Business Insider.
“I am certain that this necessary and natural self-cleansing of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, togetherness, and our readiness to answer any calls to action,” he added.
Wall Street Journal reporter Matthew Luxmoore who covers Russia and Ukraine broke the news by posting the video of Putin’s remarks. Despite not being subtitled or translated in English the video has gone viral with 1.7 million views in under 24 hours.
“Ominous words from Putin,” Luxmoore wrote, noting: “No wonder thousands are leaving the country in fear.”
Foreign policy analyst Rula Jebreal responded by saying, “This is the textbook definition of genocide.”
Professor Mark Galeotti, author of two dozen books on Russia, at The Spectator calls Putin’s speech “a vitriolic attack” and “a step towards totalitarianism, with every Russian, rich or poor, being demanded to make a choice: are you with or against Putin?”
“Of course, another word for cleansing is ‘purge,’” Galeotti notes.
“Putin really wants to take Russia back to Stalin days,” says Olga Lautman, a Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).
“He has always emulated Stalin and this speech is definitely angrier and stronger than previous speeches. Cleansing in Russia, cleansing in Ukraine, enemies everywhere,” adds Lautman, who is also the creator and co-host of the Kremlin File podcast series.
“These are genocidal terms. Putin has ensured his own permanent status as a pariah, never again to be part of the civilized world,” writes noted constitutional law scholar and Harvard University Professor Emeritus Laurence Tribe.
“Pay attention to politicians in the US who talk like this, who call every critic a traitor, who invoke images of dissenters as insects, who use the word or synonyms for ‘cleansing’ ‘purity,'” warns Nadine Smith, a civil rights activist, LGBT community organizer, and the head of Equality Florida. “The erosion of democracy comes steadily until it collapses all at once.”
Retired FBI Assistant Director and NBC News National Security Contributor Frank Figliuzzi said simply of Putin: “He will not stop.”
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