December 28, 2021
This is a continuation of my post “Do Russians Want War?” You can find a link to it in the comments.
When I wrote that there were virtually no people in Russia who did not want war with Ukraine, I was told that no one wanted to risk their lives and health, and therefore people did not go to pickets and protest rallies. Plus, these protest actions were pointless since the authorities didn’t listen to people.
Let’s omit the fact that a sanctioned protest rally in Kirov, a city of half a million, drew six people. After all, this is only a small part of the Russian resistance to Russian aggression in Ukraine.
And I would say that protest rallies are not what counts the most. What counts the most are screenings of underground film, sabotage in factories, underground circles providing aid and solidarity to Ukraine, boycotts of military enlistment offices, data leaks, anonymous leaflets in universities and schools, and support for Ukraine from the opposition diaspora. And much much more.
And yes, I know that there is an underground in Russia. I know people who screen banned films about the Russian-Ukrainian war. I know those who work with young people and tell the truth. I know those who sabotage factories and more. They’re all heroes.
But they are few and far between, droplets in the vast, indifferent ocean of the Russian citizenry. If this movement were broader and bigger, we would know about it. We monitor its every peep and sigh. If there were a huge outcry in Russia against the Kremlin’s military machine, we would know about it. But there isn’t one.
Lone individuals and tiny groups do not cancel the rule. If, in a village of five hundred, only a couple of dozen people opposed the burning (by the village leadership) of a Jewish shtetl, this does not cancel the rule in any way. A pogrom was committed with the tacit consent and passive inaction of the local populace.
Doing nothing and staying silent are also a choice, not a neutral position. I want to remind you of a truism that is, nevertheless, not obvious to everyone: “If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful – we don’t remain neutral.”
This rule also applies to Ukraine and Russia.
As I write these lines, Russia has shut down Memorial, and OVD Info has been blocked. Young people are brought up in patriotic ecstasy, the opposition has been trampled, and Putin and his pack are bubbling over in a militaristic frenzy, openly threatening Ukraine with a major war.
Yes, there is fascism in Russia. In fact, there is a fascist system.
Even in countries with fascist regimes there were mass movements of resistance, disobedience, and boycotts, and the diaspora joined the armed forces that fought against those fascist regimes. The exceptions were those fascist regimes where the people either gleefully adored the leader, or where they obediently kept silent, approvingly ignoring all his crimes.
Unfortunately, we see the latter in Russia, not the former. We see what is in the picture below. And there were only two big protest actions against the aggression in Ukraine. After Nemtsov was murdered, they stopped altogether. Anti-war and pro-Ukrainian agitation has been the preserve of lone individuals—it has been the exception, not the rule.
Instead of an ending. If you’ve ended up here by chance, or you don’t understand why I write about Russia while not living in the country itself, there is a link to an answer to this question in the comments.
Do Russians Want War?
Why I Write About Russia
The majority in Russia simply does not believe in this war: no one talks much about it, nor is it part of the agenda that matters to most people. Rather, more attention is paid to it in the West and in Ukraine than in Russia itself.
And yet there is plenty of information in Russian. The fact that people are indifferent and “do not believe” clearly defines them.
There was plenty of information, last time, too. Many in the West and Ukraine talked about the inevitability of war, but it didn’t start then, and I don’t think it will start now. Despite the fact that I am by no means a fan of Putin’s policy, I don’t believe that war will begin either.
I have also written on more than one occasion that no one wants a major war and that its probability is relatively low, but wars very often happen through a chain of events. Russian nationals could be blown up by their own land mine in ORDLO, and everything would kick off like a chain reaction. Russians may not believe it, but there has been a war underway between Ukraine and Russia for almost eight years. Fourteen thousand people have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been physically and mentally crippled, there have been millions of displaced refugees, the societies have been militarized and impoverished, and on and on and on. Apparently, these numbers are not large enough to shock Slavs. 🤷
Russians who want to help the Ukrainian army send money to buy equipment and ammunition. Faith without deeds is dead. Details are easy to find on the internet. If you’re interested, ask, and I will help.
Translated by the Russian Reader. As (bad) luck would have it, this is the 2,000th post on this blog, which I started in October 2007 because I wanted to give a platform to views and news from “other Russias” (especially ones that never or almost never make it into the Anglophone media) by doing what I do best — reading, translating, and editing. If you want to support my work, consider making a donation to me through PayPal or Ko-Fi. Sharing my posts on social media is another great way to support this project. The more views I get, the more I’m persuaded that I have to go on doing this work. Thanks! ||| TRR