War in Russia
“Most people who I know left or are about to leave the country“
How are you experiencing the situation in Russia at the moment?
The atmosphere here in Russia is depressing. Most people who I know left or are about to leave the country because we can get real jail sentences for what we say or write. It is scary. Scary to go to protests. Scary to write. Scary to talk openly. We have been intimidated. For what is going on in the Ukraine we are scared and at the same time ashamed because no one deserves this in the 21st Century. We are scared indeed. We are scared of what is going on.
How are you experiencing the situation in Russia at the moment?
The atmosphere here in Russia is depressing. Most people who I know left or about to leave the country because we can get real jail sentences for what we say or write. It is scary. Scary to go to protests. Scary to write. Scary to talk openly. We have been intimidated. For what is going on in the Ukraine we are scared and at the same time ashamed because no one deserves this in the 21st Century. We are scared indeed. We are scared of what is going on.
Can you talk with your family about Putin?
Since 2017, I have been participating in the protest movement in Russia and during this time I had a lot of conflicts with my parents. But now, I’ve succeeded in making them understand my position. So now, we have intense discussions about that. We don’t know what this situation will do to the Russian Economy in the near future and if we can come back soon to a “normal state” in terms of economy and politics.
Who influenced you to participate in the protest movement?
Various Russian political opponents like Boris Nemtsov, Alexey Navalny, Ekaterina Shulman, Anna Politkovskaya …some of them are dead by now.
What are you doing against the current situation? Is there anything you can do?
We are going to protests now. There are not a lot of people and most of the attendees also are getting arrested. Now the movement is focused on silent resistance. The whole city is full of stickers, scribblings and drawings saying “no war”. People are putting “no war” stickers on their clothes but they can also be arrested for that. What we are also trying to do is talk to our relatives and acquaintances in order to not be silent about the situation or misrepresent it as “the special operation”. Also, I am supporting organizations that help people who were arrested at the protests. I think that is all I can do now.
And how do people react if you talk to them?
Well now, our people are separated into two groups - consisting of all the different ages, genders, religions or professions. In one group, people understand that it is a war and they speak up and they feel pain and fear. In the other group, people support what is going on now. It is difficult to say which group is smaller and which one is bigger. But the second group emerged from Russian TV propaganda and unfortunately this group is more aggressive. They do not accept other opinions and they are not ready for any discussion. So families are breaking up, marriages… people are losing their friends because they just won’t listen to each other anymore.
What news is currently on TV?
In their “propaganda news” they tell us that there are neo-Nazis in the Ukraine. That the Russian army has almost no losses. That Russia attacks only military facilities. They explain it to us as a “special operation” and that we had no choice.
Where do you get your information from then?
I read independent news channels which Russia recognizes as news from foreign operatives. Certain websites are already completely blocked within Russia, for example Twitter does not work without a VPN anymore.
When you went to the protests, what did you see?
I would like to compare my very first protest and the last one now. My first was on 12 of June 2017: On this day a lot of people were arrested. I got bruises from the police and national forces. However, back then they didn’t arrest everyone they saw. They just went for the people with posters.
But last week, people were arrested just for standing. It was really just enough to stand there, you wouldn’t need to scream anything or have a poster, you might even just pass by because you were on your way to the city center - and they would arrest you. Of course, they first arrested the people with posters or who shouted anti-war slogans. But the police and national force were also randomly picking up people from the crowd. As I understand now , the jails in my city and in the region are now full with administrative sentences. They’re running out of space to keep people for these administrative sentences.
Did your city change?
In our grocery stores the shelves are empty. People are preparing for something, without knowing exactly what for. They are panicking. Yesterday I only saw rice there. And, the prices for groceries are changing all the time.
Are you panicking?
Honestly speaking, all this week while the war was going on, I was tired of being afraid. So I wrote and spoke openly about what is going on. Maybe I am even a bit aggressive toward the people around me.
Economy-wise, we the country is trying to prepare now for what is about to happen. But of course, we can never be fully ready. I understand that my generation does not have any future in this country. Our economy will need at least ten years to recover. That makes development in education and science impossible now. We will be in absolute isolation.
For me, the most difficult part is that my friends and I really want to fix it. But everyone is so scared now that the people who could do something left the country or are about to leave if they get the opportunity. So everyone here is sort of in panic and feels depressed.
Do you want to leave Russia?
Yes, I wanted to leave Russia but not in this way, not under these circumstances. My family is not supporting the war but they are also, unfortunately, not supporting my idea of leaving Russia.
My family doesn’t want to leave. My mother says that it is our country, and that we shouldn’t go even if it becomes very bad here. I disagree with her. Most probably I will need to leave in conflict with her and my family [Most probably leaving will cause conflict within my family]. However, I don’t see any other way now.
studiert an der Universität Greifswald Biochemie und arbeitet als freie Journalistin und Dokumentarfilmerin. Ehemals bei KATAPULT MV, jetzt frei für KATAPULT.