April 1, 2023

Lakeview Gazette

Complete News World

Russians maintain strong support for the war and wind up Putin’s erratic war strategy

PARIS.- Inaction, negligence or complicity? According to a recent poll by the Levada Institute, known for its independence from the Kremlin, 83% of Russians approve of Vladimir Putin and his “special action” in February Ukraine. This is the highest number since the invasion began a year ago.

Considered by experts to be the last institution to provide reliable conclusions about the state of Russian opinion, Levada asked in the same poll whether Russia was currently moving in a “good or bad direction”: 68% of those surveyed responded in favor of a “good direction”. In other words, tens of thousands of deaths, or the limited progress of the Russian offensive, or divisions within the armed forces have not affected Russian support for Putin and his war against Ukraine.

“This means that those who believe that an uprising of the Russian people will end Putin’s rule are completely wrong.” François Thome, a historian and expert on Russia, says:

However, in the case of a totalitarian regime, it is reasonable to ask questions about the veracity of these responses. Do people lie? Or dare not tell the truth? For many Russian intellectuals and critics of Putin, those figures are credible.

Vladimir Putin during an action at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, to a full audience.Maxim Blinov – Sputnik

One of them is Sergei Medvedev, a respected Russian political scientist and historian, an expert on the post-Soviet era and currently in exile in Prague. According to him, this passivity is the “Russian soul”. “Vedalism is an important part of our mentality. Russia is an immovable country in the Buddhist way.” Says in a detailed interview with a French newspaper Le Figaro.

For Medvedev, the first explanation of this fatalism is the Russians’ relationship with death.

“It’s scary to say, but Russia can accept a million deaths without reaction. That’s the death toll that Covid has left behind without anything happening. Today, coffins arrive, Russian widows thank the power that gives them money or fur coats,” he pointed out, as the Kremlin aired gruesome images of mothers of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine receiving fur coats as payment for those deaths.

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“Life in Russia is completely devalued. If you look at the statistics, It is easy to verify that Russian people die from drunkenness, accidents, fights or neighbor’s shovels. For example, half of Russians don’t wear their seat belts,” he adds.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to the nation on February 21, 2023 in Moscow, Russia.

The second reason Medvedev revealed was cultural isolation.

“Putin’s plan gained official policy status in Russia based on discontent. For 20 years, the team in power has not stopped repeating that Russia is humiliated and must stand up to the whole world. We see the country becoming globalized. “Putin’s Russia has recreated a giant leviathan state that crushes all shoots of democracy,” he explains.

For Medvedev, “Today it’s not just about Putin’s war and an elite seeking revenge. True, a few thousand protested, and more than a million fled abroad. But this means 1% of the population”, he points out. Clearly, this is the war of the whole Russian people: by fatalism, by passivity, by brainwashing … “But yes, this is the war of the Russian people”He concludes.

Tsarist tradition

This passivity can be explained as a legacy of the tsarist era, when people were brutally subjugated. Along with the rest of the world, slavery was abolished in Russia in the middle of the 19th century. Society moved into a Soviet-Stalinist system when all Soviet propaganda was aimed at turning Western leaders into new Hitlers.

“Since then, there has been a discourse that promotes isolationism and underlines the threat from the rest of the world. Putin knows very well how to reframe that discourse. That’s why he keeps talking about ‘neo-Nazis’ in Ukraine,” says Galia Ackerman, an expert historian of the Russian world.

A van with a giant TV shows Russian TV news segments about the war in Moscow (File)

When the war began, in Afghanistan and the first war in Chechnya, most analysts believed that the Russian people would react to the first deaths. Well, that’s not the case, the statistics show it. Sociologists from the Levada Institute believe that military defeat is the only thing that can bring about Putin’s downfall. According to him, “Russians are resisting the deterioration of the economic situation very well, which is practically not noticed at this time because the Kremlin was able to overcome Western economic sanctions.”

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On the other hand, the majority of people only watch state television and radio, although some people know how to watch alternative news sites.

“He hears every day: ‘We are not the aggressors, but the attacked. To NATO and to the West. And Russia, the heroic nation, knows how to resist. But, also, what the Russians are asking is not to go to war against a country (Ukraine) that is 27 times smaller than Russia. On the contrary, it is fighting against the entire West,” warns Ackermann.

Russian political scientist Andrei Kolesnikov explains this indifference in a newspaper column the world He does it with an old story.

“Leonid Brezhnev, the General Secretary of the Communist Party, assured the American representative that the Soviet people would never revolt against Communism. To prove this, he proceeded with unpopular measures, culminating in the following declaration: ‘Tomorrow, they will all be hanged. After a long silence a frightened voice asked him: ‘Should we bring our own rope or will the unions provide it?’ With the mobilization decided by Vladimir Putin, the same thing happened: everyone bought their own rope. In this case, their uniforms, their bulletproof vests and their rations, which the government does not provide them”, notes Kolesnikov.

A man takes a selfie in front of a screen showing Putin during a speech in Moscow, in Sevastopol, Crimea. AP

Russian expert Vera Grandseva disagrees with those who use the word “determination” to describe the population’s attitude.

“In April last year, an independent Russian agency surveyed 32,000 people: 29,000 were disconnected when they heard the phrase ‘special operation.’ The fact is that 10% of the Russian population supports the war, and 10% of the enemy. Others have no opinion. They are conformists who want to align themselves with the government,” he says.

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“But this is not an all-Russian war. Even Levada representatives admit that the results of opinion polls in totalitarian regimes cannot be trusted. People lie to avoid problems. We cannot know the true state of Russian public opinion at this time. The reason for this indifference is, above all, the result of the weariness of the brutal changes, revolutions and wars that they had to live through in the 20th century. Second, they are brainwashed by the successive authoritarian regimes they lived through for four generations”, Vera analysed.

According to Levada, Vladimir Putin has the greatest support among people over 50, the poor, the less educated, those who reject alternative media and those who are more dependent on the state. “There’s a terrible phrase that sums it all up: ‘I don’t know anything. I don’t want to know anything. And, above all, I don’t want to say what I don’t want to hear.’ François Thom says.

Is denial permanent in Russia? This explains why those who thought that the brutal war that Vladimir Putin decided would weaken their position when coffins started arriving in every Russian home were wrong.

Konos The Trust Program