Saturday, September 10, 2022

Even Some who Continue to Work for Russian Government Find Ways to Protest Putin’s War, Activist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 8 – Some who worked for the Russian government bureaucracy quit their jobs in disgust after Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine. Some even left the country. But there are many others, one activist speaking on condition of anonymity says, who have kept their jobs but managed to express their opposition to the war.

            A young Russian woman says that government employees opposed to the war sometimes feel they have no choice – they have families to support and no good job prospects if they resign. Others stay on because they fear that they may be replaced by less qualified political hacks and the work they value won’t get done (

            And it is certainly the case, she suggests, that most government employees who are against the war simply keep quiet lest they lose their positions, something senior officials are increasingly willing to take from them if they oppose the war. But the activist says that protest is possible and, more than that, effective because it shows other opponents that they are not alone.

            The activist describes some of her own efforts and how they have made her feel. On one occasion, she was asked to give a talk on the special military operation; and instead of refusing, she decided that she could do it better than anyone else and did so by talking about wars of conquest in general and never using the phrase “special military operation.”

            Her students were charmed, and since no other teacher or administrator was around, there was no negative reaction. The activist says she believes that “resistance is always and everywhere possible.” It occurred in Nazi Germany, and it can occur in Putin’s Russia. And it will accelerate the end of the current dictatorship.

            “I don’t feel any internal conflict from the fact that I work in a government institution,” she says. “I do not think that paid worders are obligated to support the policy of those who employ them.” And she argues that government workers should both remain in place to do their jobs and also speak out against the war when they can.

            “The more the government spends on war, the less it will on the social sphere,” she points out, adding that “in such conditions, it is especially important that there are adequate people in the institutions,” including government ones, on which they rely.

            She continues: “Many of my colleagues, especially those over 40, support the war and take pride in ‘the successes’ of the Russian army.” She tries to avoid speaking with them or at least tries always to change the subject. Everyone knows how she feels about the war, but so far no one has written a denunciation.

            Apparently what is saving her from that fate is that those around her feel she is young and hasn’t “grown up” yet. But as long as she can, she wants to protest if for no other reasons than to maintain her self-respect and to show others who oppose the war in silence that they are not alone. Others like her agree with them.

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