Sanctions imposed by the West after Russia’s attack on Ukraine are paying off: many Russian food products have increased in price, and international companies have left the country. Despite this, the population supports Putin’s regime. Journalist Inna Hartwich knows more about the causes. He lives in Moscow.
Open the people box. Close the people box
Inna Hartwich is a freelance journalist and reporters from Russia. He has been living in Moscow since 2018.
SRF News: What are the moods among the Russian population after nearly ten weeks of war in Ukraine?
Inna Hartwich: It’s hard to say anything specific about this. According to polls, up to 80 percent. residents of Russia support the actions of President Vladimir Putin. But Russia is not a democratic country, it is moving faster and faster towards dictatorship. Many people are afraid to say what they think.
Nevertheless, I assume that more than half of Russians actually support the “special military operation” in Ukraine, as Moscow calls war.
What do you base your personal impression on?
If you ask people in the street, some turn away, some actually shout at you and say it’s not “war”. Many justify Putin’s actions and say they are behind him. Politicians know what they are doing, so people avoid any responsibility.
They say Ukraine is full of fascists, so Russia’s actions in Ukraine are right.
But most of them argue like Russian TV propaganda: Americans forced Russia into war, you just fight, Russians are good people, the West is bad. Besides, Ukraine is full of fascists, so the Russian approach is right there.
In the West, it was believed that the mood of the Russian population would change with the consequences of the sanctions, such as higher food prices. Why is she not?
Apparently, the West was wrong and underestimated the Russians’ ability to suffer. Prices are rising and some drugs are no longer available. But the slowly deteriorating quality of life has so far only led to people becoming even more united behind the government.
Why did some in the West misjudge the Russian population?
Rather, I would say: perhaps we were counting too much on the public to react otherwise.
May 9 symbolizes the triumph of the Red Army over Nazi Germany.
Apparently, the West did not want to recognize the signs of the past year: internal repression, spreading hatred towards the West, and the deployment of troops on the border with Ukraine.
In a week’s time, on May 9, Russia will celebrate the victory over Nazi Germany – the country’s most important holiday. The pressure is great to show the military successes in Ukraine. Is this pressure also coming from the Russian population?
no. It is true that May 9 is a central holiday for Russians, also for their identity. But no one knows what a victory over Ukraine may look like and what Putin may be striving for. Nevertheless, Putin will definitely want to announce something – and that worries me a bit.
How is that?
The holiday is of great importance. It symbolizes the triumph of the Red Army over Nazi Germany. This heroic aspect will also be presented now when, from the Russian point of view, they are fighting the “fascists” in Ukraine.
But what it might look like now that the term fascism has become so nonsensical and twisted is completely unclear. So I am a little concerned about the meaning that may be conveyed in Moscow on May 9.
The interview was conducted by Leonie Marti.