Putin 'Cannot Remain in Power' Line Was Right, Backpedaling Wrong: Kasparov

Garry Kasparov, a Russian chess grandmaster who chairs the Human Rights Foundation, said the White House should not have walked back President Joe Biden's remark saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin should not remain in power.

During a speech in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday, Biden said: "We will have a different future—a brighter future rooted in democracy and principle; hope and light, decency and dignity; of freedom of possibilities. For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power."

The White House quickly issued a statement clarifying that the president was not calling for a regime change in Russia, but instead was saying that Putin "cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region."

Kasparov wrote in a Twitter thread Saturday evening that Biden should have stuck by his remark, slamming Putin as a "dictator" who led Russia to "economic, demographic, and political ruin."

"No free world leader should hesitate to state plainly that the world would be a far better place if Putin were no longer in power in Russia," he wrote. "A good way to make that come about is to say exactly that. Russia will be pariah until Putin is gone."

Kasparov has long been a vocal opponent of Putin and his invasion of Ukraine. He has not shied away from criticizing world leaders over their response to the Russian president, calling for them to take stronger actions against Putin including implementing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, according to Reuters. Earlier this month, he said world powers should send Russia "back to the stone age."

On Saturday, the chess grandmaster accused the White House of "fumbling to apologize to a murderous dictator for speaking the truth," calling the statement "pathetic."

"No dictator is legitimate. Don't backpedal when you are right and in the right. Don't play diplomatic games with a mass murderer," he wrote.

Kasparov is not the only person who said the White House should not have walked Biden's comment back. During a panel discussion on Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, GOP strategist Scott Jennings said he "hated it that they walked it back, because it's what we all believe."

"Nobody in the United States wants Vladimir Putin to continue to run Russia, and nobody thinks and nobody should think that when this is over we can go back to like this never happened," he said. "I don't know how it's going to end. We can't go back to treating this guy like a legitimate world leader."

Others, however, have condemned the comment from Biden, voicing concerns that it could escalate tensions with Russia. Senator Jim Risch, an Idaho Republican, called the remark a "horrendous gaffe" during an interview with CNN.

"I think most people who don't deal in the lane of foreign relations don't realize that those nine words that he uttered would cause the kind of eruption that they did. But anytime you say, or even as he did, suggest that the policy was regime change, it's going to cause a huge problem," he said.

Russia responded to Biden's remark, saying that whether or not Putin can stay in power is "not for Biden to decide."

"Each time such personal insults narrow the window of opportunity for our bilateral relations under the current [U.S.] administration. It is necessary to be aware of this," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment Sunday afternoon.

Garry Kasparov criticizes White House Putin statement
Garry Kasparov, above in Lisbon, Portugal, in November 2021, chided the White House for walking back President Joe Biden’s remark that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power.” CARLOS COSTA/AFP via Getty Images