On February 15, 2016, Russian oppositionist politician Leonid Gozman, president of the neoliberal movement Union of Right Forces, published an open letter calling upon Russian President Vladimir Putin to resign, saying that this is the only way to save Russia. In his letter, Gozman blames Putin for the deterioration of Russia's economic, political and security situation, and for the country's isolation. He states further that, due to the regime's repressive policies and the rise in corruption, old fears have resurfaced and Russians once again feel the need to hide their opinions. He reminds Putin that dictatorial regimes tend to fail and that Russia's last Tsar, Nicolai II, was quite popular in his day but this did not keep him from being assassinated.
The following are excerpts from Gozman's open letter:
Image: pri.org, February 29, 2012
"You Turned Russia Into A Bogeyman In The Eyes Of The Entire World"
ÔÇ£Your Excellency, Mr. President, you have been the leader of our country for the past 16 years. Evidently, the balance of successes versus failures has recently been moving in a negative direction. No matter what your propaganda is trying to hide, people are beginning to sense what is really going on.
"The quality of life in Russia is going downhill, our situation in the social sphere is deteriorating, real incomes are plummeting. You have not freed the country from its dependence on oil and, judging by your own declarations, you have no master plan for getting Russia out of this crisis.
ÔÇ£You promised victory over the terrorists, yet terrorist acts continue to occur. Under your leadership, these [terrorist] acts have already claimed more than three thousand lives, and, in most cases, the masterminds behind them have not been apprehended. In the Northern Caucasus [i.e., Chechen Republic], a criminal enclave has been created, which effectively functions independently of Russia yet nevertheless uses our resources. In addition to all this, you began a fratricidal war in Ukraine and then launched a war in Syria.
ÔÇ£You have turned Russia into a bogeyman in the eyes of the entire world. Your highly-publicized turning to the East has yielded no results, we are at loggerheads with our neighbors and have run out of allies in general. Sanctions and counter-sanctions, and the arms race provoked by your policies, weigh heavy on our economy. Tens of millions of people are being forced to pay the price of your not always solidly-founded geopolitical declarations.
ÔÇ£Social morale has plummeted to unprecedented depths. During the years of your leadership, deception, unjust trials and corruption have blossomed. Many people are convinced that your closest friends and officials are corrupt and that you yourself are often guilty of corruption. Everyone is increasingly talking about high-ranking officials having connections with criminal elements. Against this backdrop, hypocrisy has reemerged in our lives and an old fear has resurfaced: people are now afraid to express what they think..."
"You Have Exhausted Your Potential"
ÔÇ£One should not delude oneself with high [support] ratings; these ratings reflect a state of collapse and a lack of any real alternative. They were drummed up artificially and they will naturally drop once the resources that feed them dry up.
ÔÇ£[Tsar] Nicholas II's popularity in August 1914 [at the start of World War I] was probably greater than yours is today. People would kneel in his presence and would kiss the hem of his jacket. However, two and a half years later, exactly 99 years ago, the monarchy was toppled. Less than a year later, the Tsar was assassinated and the country was plunged into chaos for decades.
ÔÇ£Mr. President, the system you created is not the first authoritarian regime in history to find itself in a situation of economic, moral and political crisis. Such regimes usually end in catastrophe. However, there are examples of authoritarian [regimes] that at least ended peacefully and without bloodshed. Unlike many of your opponents, I believe that you do care about the fate of Russia. You still have a chance - though it is diminishing with each passing day - to save Russia.
ÔÇ£Your Excellency, you must step down. You have exhausted your potential. The longer you remain in the Kremlin, the likelier it is that events will culminate in a dreadful scenario...
ÔÇ£Of course, after your departure, hard times may [still] await us... It's not as if without you, everything will suddenly be rosy. But with you, things will only get worse (and neither you nor anyone else can change this).
ÔÇ£Your Excellency, Mr. President, you must resign! You must resign, and the sooner the better. This is the best thing you can do for Russia.ÔÇØ
 The letter was published in Gozman's blog on the website of the independent radio station Echo of Moscow (Echo.msk.ru, February 15, 2016).
 The author is referring to the Anti-Corruption Foundation's investigation into links between Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika's family and Russian criminal elements (Chaika.navalny.com, December 1, 2015).