A Russian accuses: “Maybe they’ll kill me for these words”

Rrussia’s former National soccer player Igor Denisov has criticized the war of aggression in Ukraine. “When the war started, it was like a shock,” said the 38-year-old in an interview with sports blogger Nobel Arustamyan. “But then we all thought it would stay with the Donbass, as we were all told. But when I found out two days later that we had advanced further, the shock gave way to horror.”

For him, said Denisov, who won the Russian championship four times, was captain of the national team for a time in 2012 and ended his professional career in 2019, the war was a nightmare. The family had advised him against expressing himself publicly. But Denisov wants to express his horror that people have to die.

“I tell it like it is”

He even thought about emigrating because he no longer felt safe in his homeland: “I don’t know, maybe I’ll be imprisoned or killed for saying these words, but I’ll tell you how it is.” From the Russian side, Denisovs led Advance on several social channels also to a positive response. The former professional soccer player was praised there for his honest words and courage, among other things.

According to his own statements, Denisov even wrote a message to Putin at the beginning of the war with the appeal to stop the war. “I’m a proud guy,” Denisov told Arustamian: “But I was ready to get on my knees in front of him so that he could finally end it all.”

However, Russian media refused to publish the message, Denisov said. He was surprised that more Russian soccer players hadn’t spoken out against the war. He would have done it himself if he had still been active.

“I would have just stopped playing football then. It’s clear that I would have lost a lot of money then.” The war and the associated exclusion of Russian teams from international tournaments set Russian football back decades. The sanctions meant “death” for the sport. Denissow sees a share of responsibility in the hands of coaches and players: “You were silent the whole time. That’s what you get from it.”

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