Former Russia national team captain Igor Denisov has criticised his nation’s invasion of Ukraine while admitting his comments could put his life in jeopardy.
Denisov called the war a “disaster” in remarks that risk jail time of up to 15 years under newly passed legislation that bans citizens denouncing the conflict.
The 38-year-old, who was outspoken throughout his playing career, says he wants to speak the truth about the “complete horror” inflicted in Ukraine.
He told Nobel:
These events are a disaster. Complete horror. I don’t know, maybe I’ll be imprisoned or killed for these words, but I am speaking as it is.
Denisov added that he felt no pride in his nation right now and had written to President Vladimir Putin asking to stop the war, which has gone on since late February.
Denisov was a key figure for Russia from 2008 to 2016, amassing 54 caps including a spell as captain.
At club level, he spent every season in the Russian Premier League, leading Zenit into European competitions on multiple occasions.
And as for Russia, they have been banned from international competition as a result of their invasion of Ukraine, and their clubs have been removed from European tournaments.
Former Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch, was forced to sell the club by the UK government.