Russian government critic and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov sees a military defeat for Russia as the only key to change. “A victory for Ukraine is the prerequisite for any change in Russia,” Kasparov said at the Munich Security Conference. Russian exiles discussed ways and concepts for a democratic future in the country.

Kasparov said it had to be made clear to the people of Russia that the war was lost. He thinks the people there are enormously capable of suffering as long as they think victory is possible. The only way is to make it clear to the people that the war will be lost. “And to change the mind of the Russians, unfortunately, there is no other solution than to help the Ukrainians liberate Crimea. Crimea is the staple of Putin’s mythology,” Kasparov said.

The daughter of the murdered Kremlin opponent Boris Nemtsov, Zhanna Nemtsova, attested to many people in Russia not knowing the situation in Ukraine and being disinterested. “They don’t care about the war in Ukraine,” she said. “We in exile have to talk to the Russians.” It must be informed about Russian crimes. She said rational arguments alone would not work. “The only thing that works is emotional arguments,” she said.

Irina Shcherbakova, a founding member of the human rights organization Memorial, said the Russian dictatorship wants people to believe that if it is overthrown there will be total chaos. This perspective is also catching on in the West. She said, “These are fears that the West must overcome.” The Russian anti-Kremlin Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who had already presented his proposals for a federalization of Russia before the official start of the conference in Munich, once again outlined Putin’s path to power and said: “We all underestimated him.”