In a YouTube interview with Nobel, Denisov says he is desperate and devastated.
– These events are a disaster. They completely frighten me. I do not know, maybe I will be imprisoned or killed for these words, but I tell it as it is, he says.
Denisov also says that he has sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he says that he is ready to “kneel” in front of him to stop the war. He also recorded an appeal and sent it to the media, without it being published anywhere, he says.
Denisov was captain of Russia’s national team from 2012 to 2016, and is considered a beloved sports hero who was outspoken during his career.
In the interview, referenced by Politico and Goal.com, among others, Denisov says that he no longer has any pride in being Russian.
The statements are considered very sensational, as few Russian sports stars have commented on the war. On the contrary, Russian sports stars have been actively used in propaganda, such as when President Putin held a ceremony for Olympic medal winners this spring.
Denisov’s statements are startling for another reason as well. Russian citizens risk imprisonment for condemning war in Ukraine, after the Russian parliament passed a law imposing prison sentences of up to 15 years on anyone who spreads “false news” or “commits public acts that would discredit Russia’s military action.”
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In the two-hour interview, Denisov talks about how to talk to children about what is happening in Ukraine. He also says that he has a house in Spain he can flee to if he receives threats after the interview he has done.
– The exclusion of Russia from sports tournaments is correct, he says and points out why he thinks “every single one of us Russians is to blame now”. He refers to the silence of many Russians after the outbreak of war, and the fear of speaking out.