In a nine-minute video released on Thursday, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger asks the Russian people to see the truth about the war in Ukraine and invokes his father’s Nazi past to validate the power of lies illustrate.
Schwarzenegger says in the now-viral video that he is broadcasting the message through various channels to try to break through the propaganda and reach out to Russian citizens and Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine. He noted a long history with Russia, traveling there to make films and meet bodybuilding fans – as well as his adoration for a Soviet-era weightlifter.
The news comes as Russia’s war against Ukraine enters its fourth week with no sign of respite.
“No one likes to hear something critical of their government, I understand that,” Schwarzenegger says with Russian subtitles, “but as a longtime friend of the Russian people, I hope you hear what I have to say.”
In the video, the Austrian-born action film star debunks claims that he credits the Russian state with starting the war to “denazify” Ukraine. He adds that the Russian government has lied to its people, even its own soldiers, and denounced the brutality of the country’s actions.
Rescuers on Thursday pulled survivors from the rubble of an overnight airstrike on a theater where more than 1,000 people had taken shelter in the besieged port city of Mariupol. Ukrainian officials also estimated the toll of the war in Chernihiv, northeast of Kyiv, where at least 10 civilians were reportedly killed while waiting in a bread line.
Pentagon officials say, on what they call a conservative estimate, more than 7,000 Russian soldiers died in the war – far more than the 500 that Moscow has officially recognized. Kyiv has so far admitted the deaths of 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers.
“When I see babies being pulled out of ruins, I think I’m watching a documentary about the horrors of World War II, not the news of the day,” he says.
His father, who fought in the Nazi army, was wounded in Leningrad – today’s St. Petersburg – during World War II.
When he arrived, “he was pumped up by his government’s lies,” Schwarzenegger said.
But when he left, “he was broken physically and mentally,” he said, adding, “I don’t want you to be broken like my father.”
Schwarzenegger describes how, in 1961, at the age of 14, he met the Russian who became his hero – Yuri Petrovich Vlasov.
That year, Schwarzenegger traveled to Vienna to watch the World Weightlifting Championships, where Vlasov won the championship title.
After meeting Vlasov backstage and shaking hands with the powerful man, Schwarzenegger hung a photograph of Vlasov in his room. His father, still embittered from his war days, begged him to dismantle it – and find a German or Austrian hero.
Father and son argued, but Schwarzenegger said he didn’t take it off.
“Because I didn’t care which flag Yuriy Vlasov wore,” he said.
Schwarzenegger later traveled to Moscow to shoot Red Heat, the first American film allowed to be shot in Red Square, where he reconnected with Vlasov.
In the video, Schwarzenegger also addresses the Russian President directly.
“To the President [Vladimir] Putin, I say: You started this war. You are fighting this war. You can end this war.”
He ends the video by expressing his admiration for those protesting the war in the streets of Russia, calling them his “new heroes”.
Schwarzenegger also aimed at the American people shortly after insurgents attacked the US Capitol on January 6 last year.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-03-17/arnold-schwarzenegger-invokes-nazi-father-in-plea-to-russian-people Schwarzenegger refers to the Nazi father in his appeal to the Russian people