Boris Bondarev: A diplomat resigns

Boris Bondarev’s letter of resignation is a bitter reckoning with Putin’s war. It is the most prominent protest gesture by a Russian diplomat to date.

The Russian Mission to the UN in Geneva. Boris Bondarev has worked here as an embassy counselor since 2019.

Alexey Vitvitsky / Imago

Hardly anyone knew Boris Bondarev’s name. His 20-year career in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had taken him to places like Cambodia and Mongolia before he finally took up a position as Counselor at the Russian Mission to the UN in Geneva in 2019. Boris Bondarev was a tiny cog in the gigantic machine of Russian diplomacy.

But now everything is different – half the world is talking about Bondarew. He handed in his resignation on Monday, triggering international media coverage. In a letter that the 41-year-old ex-diplomat shared with the public on his LinkedIn profile, the ex-diplomat ruthlessly settled accounts with Vladimir Putin’s regime and the war in Ukraine. Previously, Bondarev also had the letter by mail to several dozen diplomats sent in Geneva.

In the 20 years of his career, he has seen many a turn in Russian foreign policy, he writes in it. “But never before have I been as ashamed of my country as on February 24 of this year.” Putin’s war against Ukraine and the entire western world is not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, “but perhaps also the most serious crime against the Russian people”. The letter “Z”, which is emblazoned on Russian military vehicles in Ukraine, thwarts all hopes for a prosperous, free society.

“Those who dreamed up this war want only one thing – to remain in power forever, to live in pompous, tasteless palaces, to sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian Navy,” Bondarev continues. “To achieve that, they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes.”

In response to Bondarev’s letter, human rights organization Uno Watch called on all other Russian diplomats at the United Nations — and around the world — to follow his example and resign.

Settlement with Foreign Minister Lavrov

Bondarev, who dealt with disarmament issues on the Geneva mission, was only a middle-ranking diplomat. And yet his furious letter is the most prominent and sensational gesture of protest against the war by a Russian official to date. In March, the case of the Russian climate commissioner Anatoly Chubais, who had resigned from his position and left Russia because of his opposition to the war, became known. Chubais, who led Boris Yeltsin’s 1996 election campaign, was reticent about his resignation.

Anders Bondarev: In his letter he denounced his former employer without hesitation. The lies and unprofessionalism in the Russian Foreign Ministry have reached a “catastrophic level” in recent years, reminiscent of the Soviet propaganda of the 1930s. Bondarev holds the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responsible for this development in particular: “Within 18 years he went from a professional and educated intellectual to a person who constantly spreads contradictory statements and threatens the world with nuclear weapons.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry is no longer about diplomacy, but about warmongering, lies and hatred, writes Bondarev. There is no doubt about the authenticity of his letter. The diplomat is still on the United Nations website in Geneva listed. Of the “New York Times” he also sent a copy of his diplomatic passport to confirm his identity.

The propagandists of Geneva

The Russian mission in Geneva has not yet commented on Bondarev’s resignation. A statement should appear soon, it said. However, it cannot be assumed that the former diplomat was dismissed with cake and congratulations. In the social networks and on their site The Russian diplomatic mission in Geneva spreads the propaganda of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other pro-Russian channels almost every day.

One of the biggest agitators Alexander Alimov, the deputy head of the Geneva mission Gennady Gatilov. For example, Alimov had described the Bucha massacre as a “fake” on Twitter or made fun of a photo of an injured woman: She was an actress and the blood was “pomegranate juice”.

It is unclear what will happen next for Boris Bondarev. Opposite of AP news agency he said he had no intentions of leaving Geneva. Despite everything, he doesn’t seem to have lost his sense of humor: on LinkedIn he writes: “Job offers are welcome”.

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