The Kremlin said on Thursday that many people in Russia were showing themselves to be “traitors” and pointed to those who were resigning from their jobs and leaving the country.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov made the comments a day after President Vladimir Putin delivered a stark warning to Russian “traitors” who he said the West wanted to use as a “fifth column” to destroy the country.
“In such difficult times…many people show their true colors. Very many people are showing themselves, as we say in Russian, to be traitors,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
He was asked about Putin’s remark that Russia would undergo a natural and necessary “self-cleansing” as people were able to “distinguish the true patriots from the scum and the traitors.”
Peskov said: “They 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.”
The Kremlin leader’s comments were welcomed in parliament by Gennady Zyuganov, the head of the nominally opposition Communist party that often backs Putin on important matters of policy.
“We need to defeat the fifth column that is entrenched inside and is ready to stab us in the back any minute,” he said. “All these troubles started in 1991 when (modern Russia’s first president Boris) Yeltsin with his clique sold and betrayed the country.”