Russia has labelled those leaving the country and resigning from their jobs in response to the invasion of Ukraine as â€œtraitorsâ€, saying that it will make the country stronger if they are gotten rid of.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (pictured bottom left) said many people in Russia were showing themselves to be â€œtraitorsâ€, following similar comments made by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
â€œIn such difficult timesâ€¦ many people show their true colours. Very many people are showing themselves, as we say in Russian, to be traitors,â€ Peskov said on Friday, March 18 as Russia enters its third week of war against its neighbor.
When asked about Putinâ€™s remark that Russia would undergo a natural and necessary â€œself-cleansingâ€,Â Peskov responded:
â€œThey vanish from our lives themselves. Some people are leaving their posts, some are leaving their active work life, some leave the country and move to other countries. That is how this cleansing happens.â€
He brushed off comments by US President Joe Biden who publicly called Putin a war criminal for his actions in Ukraine which included bombing of civilian homes, schools and hospitals.
Peskov described Putin as a â€œwise, farsighted and cultured international figureâ€, adding that Biden had no right to speak as head of a state â€œthat has been bombing people all over the world for yearsâ€.
His comments come after Putin said his country will â€œalways be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitorsâ€ as he publicly denounced those who do not back him.
Referring to dissenters during a televised address, Putin on Wednesday said Russians will â€œsimply spit them out like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouthsâ€.
He added: â€œI am convinced that such a natural and necessary self-purification of society will only strengthen our country.â€
Putin, who calls the war in Ukraine a â€œspecial operationâ€, said the West is using a â€œfifth columnâ€ of traitorous Russians to create civil unrest.
â€œThere is only one goal, I have already spoken about it â€” the destruction of Russia,â€ he said.