Searches, arrests, sentences... An atmosphere of the fear is returning to Russia

Searches, arrests, sentences... An atmosphere of the fear is returning to Russia
Searches, arrests, sentences... An atmosphere of the fear is returning to Russia
8 July 2020, 16:08
During Stalin's days the Soviet people were panicky afraid to say anything that could be interpreted as a statement against the government. Now it seems that these times are back.

In social networks a new discussion, caused by the recent events - the arrest of journalists and the putting on trials over the alleged rebels of the New Majestic - is flaring up. Daniil Konstantinov, a well- known Russian political activist living in Lithuania, set the tone for it, claiming in his post that the fear had returned to Russia:

“It seems to me that we do not fully understand how frightened the people in the Russian Federation are. We all tend to judge others on our own, perplexed when others do not behave the way we would like or how we would behave ourselves in the certain circumstances.

For a long time, I laughed at the assumption that people could lie on opinion polls. Well, you know, when a person is asked how he relates to Putin (or to "United Russia" or something else), and he thinks this: "Or maybe this is not a sociologist asking, but comrade major!?". This seemed ridiculous to me, because I always answered what I think, not limiting myself to fears of future consequences. And recently, I realized the scale of the problem and stopped laughing. And here is how it happened a couple of weeks ago.

One old small school friend of mine shot a video criticizing the government and posted it on YouTube and Facebook. And a couple of days later he took off, explaining that his mother called in tears and asked him to shoot this video. And he took off. And it shocked me. It was shocking because I have known him for almost 30 years - from the first grade of school. We went through school, all kinds of trials and teenage skirmishes, were friends with him at the university and after university. And we are still friends. He was always a brave, determined and uncompromising guy. And I never really was afraid of anything. But the request of the mother, who is afraid for him and crying, was enough for him to remove his own video.

But his parents are quite wealthy and successful people, who have never been particularly afraid of anything and who do not ask the state or expect anything from it. A classic such Moscow self maid. But there came a time when they were really scared for their son, simply because he allowed himself to criticize the government. Just expressed dissatisfaction.

And I suddenly realized that my sense of self can be very different from that of other people. And what I can afford (or I could before, now I am in exile), others cannot afford. Even brave and determined people.

Here is such an atmosphere in the country now.


I just recorded an interview with a journalist who said she was afraid to say certain things directly.

I'm not a fan of the 90s and the president, writing under the wheel of a car, but yes - they were less afraid. I remember the 90s. There were big problems, but people were less afraid of the state..."


Of course, this post caused a lot of feedback, and of a very different sense. It turned out that yes, there is fear, but mainly it arises in people of the older generation who were born and raised in the USSR.

So, another political emigrant Evgenia Chirikova writes:

“I remember how in the days of Khimki forest my mother called me on the phone and shouted in a voice:“ What are you doing? Stop! Will kill !" And the scream was such that in a minibus people in horror turned to me. It was scary . But I felt that I could not stop, I did not listen to my mother ... And my mother is modern and young - yoga, fitness, a swimming pool, exhibitions, Nordic walking, Sweden loves. And the animal is practically a fear of power deep inside..."

Yuri Mishkaev confirms:

"Exactly. One of my acquaintances, before asking me a question about politics, cleans the phone, asks to go out. She says to my bewilderment - they listen..."

Sergey Zhavoronkov believes that the authorities are mostly afraid of those who depend on it - civil servants, but the problem is that there are more and more of them:

“People are afraid of the authorities. And the wave of dismissals going now, let’s say now at the HSE, once again shows that it’s not in vain. But HSE was considered almost the center of free thought. What can I say about some state institution, state enterprise. And the scale of the problem is huge: the public sector is growing. For example, in Moscow, out of 7 million voters, they drove a million (!) To the "Internet vote". And this is Moscow, not Chechnya, not the Tambov region..."

Activist Mikhail Savostin cited the Russian countryside as an example:

“Since 2012, I have been observing this. At Putin’s inauguration, we decided to organize a protest hunger strike in Mineralnye Vody, as the administration and police intimidated all our participants. They called parents and grandparents, threatened with dismissal from work, creating problems in business. As a result, I had to sit alone on a hunger strike, which led to another arrest..."

Natalia Tochilnikova confesses that she is forced to edit her posts on social networks:

“Yes, there is fear. It does not yet affect my answers to opinion polls, but I’m filtering the bazaar in the Federal Bureau, each time checking each of my posts with all fifteen political articles introduced in the Criminal Code under You Know Who. And when we once again, with the whole family, begin to discuss the issue of departure, the main reason is this: it’s scary to live here..."

An activist from Penza, Alexander Zhirkin, believes that the whole thing is in age:

“Still, I think that this is the result of a negative selection of the communist regime. Those who have not experienced this are growing freer, even at the present time. In our country, on the eve of the voting, the youth calmly “hung the Tsar of United Russia” (a scarecrow with a crown and in a sweatshirt with the Edra logo) next to the central square of the regional government (if measured in Moscow, it’s like on Manezhka). But the so-called starters in social networks did not appreciate the action..."

But Vyacheslav Ivanov is sure that for the most part the Russian people are not intimidated, but passive:

“Yes, he is not intimidated, but passive, patient. How frightened he is, there are no mass repressions, no one forces Putin to love. I do not like those who somehow try to justify this people and create the image of an unhappy oppressed god-bearer. no, those who love power, they love it sincerely, and not because the KGB made him love..."

A sound thought was expressed by Oleg Zhdanov:

“Fear is normal. It’s not normal that people don’t want to make efforts to work on their consciousness, but this is a problem. At least just start to develop consciousness and they will provide tools for working with emotions. Well, then it's easier. Again. The problem is not fear; it is inherent in the psyche by nature. The problem is the lack of feasible actions. They are not born heroes - this is the result of labor. In general, everything is the result of efforts. This is a big (although actually small) thing that a person at least made an attempt. So tomorrow there will be another attempt, and after tomorrow at least a small result. Worse when a person does not move..."

Activist Leonid Razvozzhaev gave an example from his own practice:

“Now in Angarsk, at home. Here the election of the governor of the Irkutsk region, the mayor of Angarsk, city deputies, etc. He lived with his aunt naturally sharply cut all the government representatives from Putin to the mayor of a corrupt official, probably the aunt was very scared. She began to imagine that some people came with some kind of check and were interested in me, etc. She hinted that it would be better if I moved out, they say she was scared. I had to move..."

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