FULTON — Garry Kasparov acknowledged Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday on Friday in his Enid and R. Crosby Kemper Lecture at Westminster College.

It’s a good time for Putin to retire, said Kasparov, an outspoken Putin critic and former world chess champion.

“Somewhere in a bunker, the little dictator is celebrating,” Kasparov said.

Putin wouldn’t even allow a knife in the room to cut the cake, he said.

Kasparov spoke in a packed Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, to those attending a conference at Westminster and a few others.

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Kasparov, a Russian, ran for president of Russia in 2007 against Putin. Kasparov is chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and founder of the Renew Democracy Initiative political organization. He warned of the danger Putin represents in a 2015 book “Winter is Coming.”

Winston Churchill gave his “Sinews of Peace” speech at Westminster in 1946, warning of an iron curtain falling over Europe. Kasparov called his Westminster talk “A New Sinews of Peace.”

Once again, there’s war in Europe with a dictator trying to change borders, Kasparov said.

“Today there is a clear and present danger,” Kasparov said. “It’s a fine fall day here in Fulton, Missouri, but make no mistake, winter is here.”

The U.S. and the West have been apathetic to the Putin threat for too long, he said.

“We are paying the price for our apathy,” Kasparov said. “Ukraine is paying the price in blood.”

The U.S. has finally awoken, serving as an arsenal of democracy, he said.

“Helping Ukraine has never been a charity,” he said. “It is a debt.”

The Ukrainians deserve all the resources we can provide, Kasparov said.

Ukrainians are fighting for all of us,” he said.

Winning the war will mean restoring 100% of Ukrainian territory to Ukrainian control, he said.

“Who are we to complain about high gas prices when Ukrainians are paying in blood?” Kasparov said.

Beyond Russia and Ukraine, Kasparov praised women protesting in Iran after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody.

“The winds of freedom are blowing through Ukraine to Iran and Dagestan,” he said.

They are guiding us, he said.

“Ukraine is showing us the way,” Kasparov said. “The women in the streets of Tehran are showing us the way. How easy we have it in comparison. Let those fighting and dying for their rights not sacrifice in vain.”

Putin is isolated, Kasparov said when asked about his support from China.

“Dictators, give them credit,” he said. “They hate losers.”

If Russia had conquered Kyiv in days as predicted, China would already be preparing to invade Taiwan, he said.

As a Russian, he’s ashamed about what is being done in Ukraine, he said.

The imperial virus must be eradicated” from the body of Russia, he said.

Putin is a war criminal as Stalin and Hitler were before him, Kasparov said. Russians are senselessly killing civilians in Ukraine.

“We said ‘never again’ and we cannot let those words ring hollow,” Kasparov said, referring to the German murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.

Kasparov got into a Twitter exchange with Elon Musk this week, calling Musk’s peace plan for Russia and Ukraine “moral idiocy.”

In a tweet from Musk, he asked what Kasparov did other than tweet, to which a Kasparov supporter responded with a video of Kasparov being arrested in Moscow in 2007.

“We must put aside our differences and unite when true evil threatens,” Kasparov said.

Unlike in 1946, the free world now has overwhelming advantages militarily, culturally and morally, Kasparov said in Fulton.

Roger McKinney is the education reporter for the Tribune. You can reach him at rmckinney@columbiatribune.com or 573-815-1719. He’s on Twitter at @rmckinnney9.

This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Vladimir Putin represents ‘clear and present danger’ Kasparov says