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‘I have never been so ashamed of my country’ – Russian envoy to UN’s explosive resignation letter

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An image taken with permission from the passport photo page of Russian diplomat Boris Bondarev.

An image taken with permission from the passport photo page of Russian diplomat Boris Bondarev.

An image taken with permission from the passport photo page of Russian diplomat Boris Bondarev.

A diplomat at Russia’s mission to the UN in Geneva has resigned over the war in Ukraine, writing that he has never been “so ashamed” of his country .

In a letter circulated to colleagues in Geneva and posted on a LinkedIn account in his name as well as on Facebook, Boris Bondarev, counsellor at the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, said he had left the civil service yesterday.

“For 20 years of my diplomatic career I have seen different turns of our foreign policy, but never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 of this year,” he wrote, referring to the date the invasion was launched.

“The aggressive war unleashed by Putin against Ukraine, and in fact against the entire Western world, is not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the people of Russia, with a bold letter Z crossing out all hopes and prospects for a prosperous free society in our country.”

The scathing letter is one of the most high-profile critiques of the war – and its architects – to come from within the Russian government. Russian president Vladimir Putin has made it clear that dissent won’t be tolerated, saying in March that the Russian people can distinguish between “true patriots from scum and traitors.”

Anatoly Chubais, Putin’s special representative on sustainable development resigned and left Russia in March, but did not publicly comment on his reasons for departing.

Russian officials have yet to comment on the case. But critics of the war can face punishment under laws that make it a crime to spread “false information” about the Russian military, including by calling the war a war, rather than a “special operation” – Putin’s preferred term.

Mr Bondarev took direct aim at Russia’s ruling class. “Those who conceived this war want only one thing – to remain in power forever, live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian Navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity,” he wrote.

“To achieve that they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes,” the letter continued. “Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have already died just for this.”

An online directory for the UN in Geneva lists Mr Bondarev as counsellor at the Russian Federation’s mission. The LinkedIn profile says he is a specialist in arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation. 

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The final section of his letter calls out the ministry where he worked, singling out Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov, he wrote, “went from a professional and educated intellectual, whom many my colleagues held in such high esteem, to a person who constantly broadcasts conflicting statements and threatens the world (that is, Russia too) with nuclear weapons!”

The ministry of today “is not about diplomacy,” but “warmongering, lies and hatred.”

Mr Bondarev’s very public resignation led to calls for other Russian officials to follow suit.

“Boris Bondarev is a hero,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based nongovernmental organisation, who circulated a copy of the Russian diplomat’s letter on Twitter. “We are now calling on all other Russian diplomats at the United Nations – and worldwide – to follow his moral example and resign.”

“This is an unbelievable letter below from a top Russian diplomat denouncing Putin in no uncertain terms,” tweeted Bill Browder, the founder of Hermitage Capital and a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“This is the language that all Russian officials and oligarchs should use if they have any chance of being treated gently by the West.”

Bondarev’s letter finished: “The ministry has become my home and family. But I simply cannot any longer share in this bloody, witless and absolutely needless ignominy,” he wrote, adding. 

© Washington Post


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