Staunton, April 8 – Since the middle of March, Russian protests against Putin’s war in Ukraine have declined in number, the result many who took part earlier say of fears that if they go back into the streets, they will be convicted of crimes and not be able to take care of their families, the 7x7 news agency reports.
According to OVD-Info, anti-war protests in Russia peaked between February 24 and March 13. Since that time, they have declined in number and size; and many fear that there won’t be any upsurge in the future (semnasem.org/articles/2022/04/08/obrechen-li-antivoennyj-protest-v-rossii-chto-govoryat-regionalnye-aktivisty-kotorye-perestali-vyhodit-na-ulicu).
A few of those who earlier protested the war may have been led to support it by the massive propaganda blitz Moscow has launched, those who took part in the first wave say; but most have decided not to protest because the Putin regime has flooded the country with police and brought criminal charges against those taking part.
Many former participants say they weren’t afraid of administrative punishments like fines, but they do fear getting a criminal record which can affect their lives and the lives of their children and even more being incarcerated which will leave them without the ability to take care of their families.
They have not become supporters of the war, they say; but they no longer feel that taking part in small protests will have an impact that would be worth the costs anyone doing so almost certainly would incur. If a mass protest movement does reemerge, they suggest, they will join others in the streets.
In the meantime, they will either do nothing in public or limit their actions to the use of Aesopian language or Internet posts. The one thing that may drive more into the streets is the fear of some parents that their sons will be drafted and sent to Ukraine to fight and die. Such fears outweigh fears of any punishment on themselves the regime might inflict.
One former protester in Ivanovo says that “the main task of those who have protested is to survive and await the moment when a large part of the population will recognize the extent of the misfortune” Russia finds itself in. “Until then,” he says, “they must set up ‘small closed groups which will recall the underground.”
That, he says, is not an admission of defeat but “a different form of the life of protest.”