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‘World’s highest paid poet’ who fled Russia after father’s murder calls for Putin to face war crimes trial

A Russian-born poet and Instagram favourite who fled the country after her father was murdered has called for Vladimir Putin to be arrested and tried for war crimes.

Arch Hades, a pseudonym she uses for security reasons, told Sky News the bombardment of Ukraine was “abhorrent” and insisted most Russians oppose “Putin’s war”.

The 29-year-old, whose poetry has seen her amass more than one million Instagram followers, moved to London as a child after her father was “gunned down in an alley” in St Petersburg, she said.

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Russian-born poet Arch Hades believes most Russians oppose 'Putin's war' in Ukraine
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Ms Hades believes most Russians oppose ‘Putin’s war’ in Ukraine

Her father, who she asked not to be named to protect her surviving relatives, was a businessman who embraced “democracy and liberalism”, which the Putin regime “despised”, she added.

She has now voiced fears that Russians have been “sealed in a cage” with Mr Putin as the country becomes increasingly isolated, and he will “take out his wrath on them” if he loses the war in Ukraine.

Hades told Sky News: “I hope to see Putin in The Hague. I hope to see him tried for war crimes.

“I’m afraid that when Putin doesn’t get his way, he doubles down and he might escalate his aggression.

“I really fear for the Ukrainian people. This is survival for them.

“I’m a pacifist but I know if the Ukrainians put down their weapons, there will be no more Ukraine.

“If Putin does take over, I’m afraid he won’t stop there.”

A residential building was destroyed by shelling in Borodyanka, northwest of Kyiv
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A residential building in Borodyanka, Ukraine, was destroyed by shelling

Putin ‘won’t stop unless he is stopped’

Hades, who made headlines last year when she sold a poem as a non-fungible token (NFT) for $525,000, which saw her dubbed “the world’s highest paid poet”, has now donated £30,000 to the Ukraine relief effort.

She said she believes Mr Putin “won’t stop unless he is stopped” and if he is found guilty of war crimes, he should spend “the rest of his natural life in prison”.

“I’m sure there would be calls for the death penalty,” she added. “I hear a lot of discourse at the moment calling for his assassination.

“No more blood. I don’t want to see any more death. Just hold him accountable.

“Arrest him. If we don’t hold him accountable, we are teaching everybody irresponsibility.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with the head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Alexander Shokhin in Moscow, Russia March 2, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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Vladimir Putin is facing calls to be tried for war crimes

She added that the Russian president’s “stolen wealth” should be seized and used to rebuild Ukraine and parts of Russia that he has “destroyed”.

‘You will never get the justice you want’

Hades said she was “terrified” when she arrived in the UK as an eight-year-old, unable to speak English, along with her family shortly after her father’s murder in 2000.

She said her father’s killers have never been caught.

“When something like that happens, there is no justice,” the writer added.

Russian-born poet Arch Hades believes most Russians oppose 'Putin's war' in Ukraine
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Ms Hades said she was ‘terrified’ when she moved to the UK after her father’s murder

“You will never get the justice you want. You will never get the answers you want. You just have to move on. And you just have to choose courage.

“It was incredibly difficult to have your life, your home, your family, shattered in a single moment.

“And then to have to flee to a foreign country for safety.

“You have no friends, you have no connections, you just have to land and hope for the best.

“You have to rely on the compassion of strangers.”

Now a British citizen, Hades has urged the UK government to “make it easier” for Ukrainian refugees to settle in this country.

“Twenty years ago the kindness that this country showed me saved my life,” she added.

“So I ask for the British people to keep showing the same kindness to the Ukrainian refugees because that kindness will save their lives too.”

Refugees fleeing the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine cross the tracks after arriving on a train from Kyiv region at the train station in Lviv, Ukraine, March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
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Some 2.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine, the UN says

‘Don’t tar all Russians with the same brush’

Hades said she was worried about a potential “anti-Russian backlash” in Britain and claimed many Russian soldiers are not “blood-thirsty warmongers”.

“I currently know people who are imprisoned for protesting against the war,” she said.

“I fear for their lives. I fear they may starve to death or may be beaten to death.

“We have to remind ourselves that this is not what most Russians want. This is Putin’s war.”

A heavily pregnant woman flees the wreckage of the maternity hospital in Mariupol Pic: AP
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Russia’s bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol caused global outrage. Pic: AP

She added: “A lot of these Russian soldiers are not blood-thirsty warmongers. A lot of them face conscription.

“A lot of them are mutinying. A lot of people are refusing to go… they don’t want to be doing this.

“I really want to ask the British people: please don’t tar all Russian-born people with the same brush as Putin and his lackeys.”

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Hades also raised concerns for the safety of prominent Putin opponent Alexei Navalny, who was jailed last year after surviving what he says was a Russian attempt to poison him.

“The hope for a peaceful and democratic Russia rests in his hands,” Hades said.

“We have to start thinking past Putin. How will the Russians rebuild Russia after Putin?

“He’s still a man. He’s not immortal. He will die eventually. What happens next?

“I fear that in the noise of war, Navalny’s voice and his life will be silently extinguished.”

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