General Who Criticized Putin’s Military Is Arrested

( – Russia isn’t exactly a bastion of free speech and civil rights. President Vladimir Putin is an authoritarian leader who often beats back dissent. A general who famously slammed the Russian Defense Ministry is now in jail.

On May 21, reports indicated Ivan Popov, who once served as commander of Russia’s 58th army, was arrested on suspicion of fraud. A Russian military court ordered the detention of the major general for two months. Sergei Buynovsky, Popov’s lawyer, said he has already appealed his client’s detention.

In 2023, Popov said he was dismissed from the armed forces after speaking to military leadership and telling them about the dire circumstances Russian troops faced on the frontlines in the Ukraine war. At the time, he commanded troops in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region. Then he accused the Russian Defense Ministry of failing to give the military sufficient support.

Popov complained there weren’t enough resources to scout for artillery. He was also upset about the mass deaths of Russian soldiers. Then-Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu dismissed the major general. After he lost his job, Popov said, “The senior chiefs apparently sensed some kind of danger from me.”

Putin later dismissed Shoigu and appointed him to head the country’s national security council. The former defense minister has been blamed for Russia’s failed military offensive in Kyiv. At the start of the conflict, Russian troops tried to capture the Ukrainian capital and bring the government down but failed to do so.

When Yevgeny Prigozhin, the late leader of the Wagner Group, rebelled against Putin, he demanded the president dismiss Shoigu, calling him corrupt and incompetent. The president kept the defense minister in his position, and Prigozhin later died when the aircraft he was in was allegedly downed.

When Popov lost his job, he called it a “treacherous” stab in the backs of Russian soldiers. Less than a year later, it appears his next fight will be to regain his freedom. Unless, of course, he’s given the Alexei Navalny treatment.

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