A Russian governor was accused by critics on Sunday of “discrediting Russia’s armed forces” after telling residents in her region that the country had “no need” for its war in Ukraine.
Natalya Komarova, the governor of the Khanty-Mansiysk region and a member of President Vladimir Putin’s governing United Russia party, made the remarks during a meeting with residents in the Siberian city of Nizhnevartovsk on Saturday.
Critics have called for authorities to launch an investigation into her remarks, but Komarova hasn’t been detained or faced any charges so far.
A video of the event posted on social media showed the politician being confronted by the wife of a Russian soldier who said that mobilized men had been poorly equipped for the front line.
Komarova told residents that Russia hadn’t been prepared for the invasion of Ukraine.
“Are you asking me (why your husband does not have equipment), knowing that I’m the governor and not the minister of defense?”, the 67-year-old said.
“As a whole, we did not prepare for this war. We don’t need it. We were building a completely different world, so in this regard, there will certainly be some inconsistencies and unresolved issues,” she said.
Komarova’s comments quickly spread online, reportedly prompting pro-war activists to denounce the politician to authorities for “discrediting Russia’s armed forces.”
News outlet Sibir.Realii reported that its journalists had seen a letter from the director of a Siberian non-profit organization, Yuri Ryabtsev, to Russia’s Minister of Internal Affairs, calling for a further investigation of Komarova’s comments.
Days after Putin sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, Russia’s Kremlin-controlled parliament approved legislation that outlawed disparaging the military and the spread of “false information” about Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian courts have used the legislation to hand out fines and prison terms to opposition critics, including those who describe Moscow’s full-invasion of Ukraine as a war, instead of using the Kremlin’s preferred euphemism of “special military operation.”