Russian Politician Legally Challenges Putin Over Word Use

December 23, 2022

A Russian politician filed a legal challenge against Vladimir Putin, asking prosecutors to investigate the Russian President over his use of the word “war” to describe the invasion of Ukraine—breaking his own law.

Putin, since the invasion of Russia’s sovereign neighbor on February 24, has called the conflict a “special military operation.” He signed laws in March that levy steep fines and jail terms for discrediting or spreading “deliberately false information” about Russia’s military forces.

Yet on Thursday, Putin told reporters, “Our goal is not to spin the flywheel of military conflict, but on the contrary, to end this war.”

An opposition councillor from St. Petersburg—Putin’s hometown—Nikita Yuferev filed a legal challenge against Putin over his choice of words, telling Reuters he knew the challenge would go nowhere, but that he wanted to expose the “mendacity” of the system.

“I think the more we talk about this, the more people will doubt [Putin’s] honesty, his infallibility, and the less support he will have,” Yuferev said. 

In an open letter he asked Russia’s Prosecutor General and Interior Minister to hold Putin “responsible under the law for spreading fake news about the actions of the Russian army.”

After publishing the letter, Yuferev said he received hundreds of hate messages. However, he said he believes the majority of Russians understand what’s really happening in Ukraine.

“War, in Russian society, is a frightening word. Everyone is brought up by grandparents who lived through World War II, everyone remembers the saying ‘Anything but war’,” he said.

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