Sunday, February 12, 2023

Snitching Coming Back So Strongly Because It Allows Russians to Engage in Conflict without Doing So in the Open, Roshchin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 10 – The number of denunciations Russians have turned in typically anonymously to the powers that be has doubled since last year and more than quadrupled since the year before, the result, experts say, not just of the Kremlin’s promotion of this Soviet-era practice but also because it is congruent with Russian culture, Aleksey Roshchin says.

            The Moscow social psychologist says that “Russians don’t like openconflicts and try to avoid them by all means.” Snitching or denouncing someone “allows conflict to be avoided.” But as irritations mount, people need some means of letting off steam even if they are “afraid to speak openly” (

            When a Russian denounces someone to the authorities, Roshchin says, the authorities address the problem and the snitcher can all the while “maintain good relations with him, say hello and even inquire about the health of his relatives. The kind of unpleasant experiences typical of open conflict do not arise.”

            Indeed, he argues, “snitching for a quiet individual not given to conflict is the ideal way out. It allows him to express his aggression in a way that avoids problems and frees him from responsibilities. Any moves against the target will be taken by other people” and the person who caused them can thus take pleasure in that without any risks, the social psychologist says.

            Sociologist Lev Gudkov and historian Aleksey Makarkin, however, do not think that snitching is the result of deep patterns in Russian culture but rather is the product of mobilization programs launched by the state in times of trouble. When conditions improve, they suggest, the number of denunciations will fall.

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