Ex-Kremlin Official Condemns Ukraine War That Kills 'Hopes and Aspirations'

A former deputy prime minister for Russia spoke out against the war with Ukraine, becoming the latest ex-Kremlin official to condemn Putin's actions.

Arkady Dvorkovich, the former government official and current president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), said in an interview with Mother Jones that his thoughts are with Ukrainian civilians. "Wars do not just kill priceless lives," he said. "Wars kill hopes and aspirations, freeze or destroy relationships and connections."

So far, few current or former Russian government officials have made comments against the invasion, with Ukraine's Pravda news site reporting that only three members of Russia's Duma, or the lower house of the country's Federal Assembly, have condemned the attack as of the end of last month.

Though some notable Russian figures like figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva and TV presenter Ivan Urgant have spoken out against the war, many famous Russian people, such as opera singer Anna Netrebko have opted against speaking on the issue.

Dvorkovich took part in the Mother Jones interview from his home in Russia, where he said he is safe with his family and friends. However, speaking out against the war has proven to be dangerous, as some have been arrested for it. Even referring to the conflict with terms like "war," "invasion" and "assault" has been banned by Russia's media and communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor.

According to Mother Jones, some chess players have petitioned for Dvorkovich, who served in the Kremlin for 10 years, to resign as FIDE president due to his Kremlin ties, with 28 Ukrainian grandmasters signing a letter calling for his resignation. As a result, he has worked to distance himself from the Kremlin. The report added that he will seek reelection as the FIDE president this year.

In a Facebook post, the Ukrainian Chess Federation has called for Russian and Belarusian players and coaches not to be allowed to compete in European Chess Union (ECU) tournaments.

Zurab Azmaiparashvili, president of the ECU and member of the FIDE council, told Mother Jones that due to Dvorkovich's Russian government connections and anti-war words, he would "never want to be in [Dvorkovich's] place," as Dvorkovich's "discomfort" while navigating his situation is "quite obvious."

Dvorkovich used the term "war" in his interview and in a statement he made on behalf of the FIDE despite the Russian ban on the term, risking a Russian backlash. Newsweek reported Monday that Russian authorities have been arresting anti-war activists even when the signs they are holding are blank.

"FIDE stands united against this war and all wars, and condemns any use of military means to resolve political conflicts," Dvorkovich said in the statement. "I know that many connections have been broken already. And some friendships are hardly to be reinstalled. But I dream of seeing Ukrainian and Russian players competing again with each other. Not against each other, but together."

Follow Newsweek's live blog for updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Update 03/15/22 5:45 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information.

Arkady Dvorkovich Condemns Russia War
Former Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich has spoken out against the war in Ukraine. Above, Dvorkovich is seen while visiting the Fisht Olympic Stadium May 3, 2018, in Sochi, Russia. Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images