In a few hours, the “elections” of the president in Russia will be over.

Right now, in the offices of the top officials in many capitals around the world, a moment of truth is unfolding: how to react to this farce without taking off the white gloves and without getting blood on them.

I think it’s too late.

Vladimir Putin has been ruling Russia for almost a quarter of a century.

Throughout all these years in Russia, opposition figures, activists, and journalists have been beaten, poisoned, stabbed, and shot: Shchekochikhina, Khlebnikov, Markelov, Magnitsky, Politkovskaya, Nemtsov, Navalny. All of this happened openly and without concealment.

Throughout all these years, Russia has been killing its own people: Chechens, Georgians, Syrians, and us, Ukrainians.

Throughout all these years, Putin’s Russia openly disregarded and spat on the norms of international law, the declaration of human rights, and, fundamentally, on human dignity.


Throughout all these years and crimes, it did not stop a whole generation of presidents, prime ministers, kings, and monarchs from recognizing Putin as president, welcoming him, being friends, taking photos, and showing respect.

Looking back at these 24 years, it is evident that each of these handshakes and abstract courtesies, all these polite acknowledgments of elections and shy turning away from the truth, inspired and legitimized criminals and resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people.

Deaths of very specific, not abstract, individuals.

And it must be acknowledged that everyone who stood behind these ceremonies and press releases, who shook hands and tried to flirt - they are also complicit in these murders.

Complicit in Bucha, Mariupol, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, in the hundreds and thousands of killed and raped.

But I really, really hope that at least now, when Russia no longer hides its fangs, in all these capitals, they will finally wake up and not recognize Putin as president, and all this farce - as elections.

And that our generation will no longer witness these death handshakes between those we consider our own and those who kill them and us.

Otherwise, all these declarations and values are just a farce.

Which sooner or later will turn into a terrible bloody boomerang not only in Ukraine.

Mustafa Nayyem 17.03.2024