An Arnold Schwarzenegger video message to the Russian people already has garnered more than 4.3 million views on Twitter, as the former California governor says that he is telling them the truth about Vladimir Putin’s “illegal war.”
“I am speaking to you today because there are things going on in the world today that are being kept from you, terrible things,” Schwarzenegger said in the video, posted by ATTN:.
In the video, Schwarzenegger recounted how, in 1961, when he was 14, a friend of his invited him to come to Vienna to watch the World Weightlifting Championships. Yuri Petrovich Vlasov won the title, and Schwarzenegger said his friend got him backstage afterward.
“All of the sudden, there I was, a 14-year-old boy standing in front of the strongest man in the world,” he said.
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He said that Vlasov “had this powerful man’s hand that swallowed mine. But he was kind, and he smiled at me. I will never forget that day.”
Schwarzenegger said that he went home and put Vlasov’s picture above his bed to inspire him when he started lifting weights. His father, though, told him to take it down and put up one of a German or Austrian hero.
“He got really angry, and we argued back and forth,” Schwarzenegger said, noting that his father, in the Nazi army, was injured during World War II in Leningrad. The Nazi Army, he noted, “did vicious harm to the great city and to its brave people.”
Schwarzenegger said he didn’t take the photo down “because it didn’t matter to me what flag Yuri Vlasov carried.”
He said that he met Vlasov again, this time when he was in Moscow to film Red Heat, the first American film allowed to shoot in Red Square. They spent the day together and “he was so thoughtful and so kind and so smart,” and gave him a blue coffee cup.
Schwarzenegger said that his point was that since he was 14, he has had “nothing but affection and respect for the people of Russia.”
But he said that he wanted to speak up in the same way he did after January 6th of last year, when rioters sacked the U.S. Capitol.
“I know that your government has told you that this is a war to denazify Ukraine. Denazify Ukraine? This is not true. Ukraine is a country with a Jewish president, a Jewish president I might add whose father’s three brothers were all murdered by the Nazis. You see, Ukraine did not start this war. Neither did nationalists or Nazis. Those in power in the Kremlin started this war. This is not the Russian people’s war.”
He went on, “Because of its brutality, Russia is now isolated from the society of nations.”
“I regret to tell you that thousands of Russian soldiers that have been killed. They have been caught between Ukrainians fighting for their homeland and the Russian leadership fighting for conquest.”
He said that Russian soldiers were lied to about the reasons they were sent to Ukraine, while Russian people have been deceived about the status of the fighting.
“When I see babies being pulled out of ruins, I think that I am watching a documentary about the horrors of the Second World War, not the news of today,” he said.
Schwarzenegger said that when his father arrived in Leningrad, “he was all pumped up on the lies of his government. And when he left Leningrad, he was broken, physically and mentally. He lived the rest of his life in paid. Pain from a broken back. Pain from the shrapnel that always reminded him of those terrible years. And pain from the guilt that he felt.”
Speaking to Russian soldiers, Schwarzenegger said, “I don’t want you to be broken like my father. This is not a war to defend Russia that your grandfathers and your great grandfathers fought. This is an illegal war.”
He told Russian soldiers that “your futures are being sacrificed for a senseless war condemned by the entire world.”
“To the soldiers who are listening to this, remember that 11 million Russians have family connections to Ukraine, so that every bullet that you shoot, you shoot a brother or a sister. Every bomb or every shell that falls is falling not on an enemy, but it falling on a school or a hospital or a home.”
He also addressed those in Russia who have protested the war.
“You have been arrested. You have been jailed and you have been beaten,” he said. “You are my new heroes. You have the strength of Yuri Petrovich Vlasov. You have the true heart of Russia.”
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