Sunday, June 4, 2023

Some Russians Fear a Putin Victory in Ukraine; Others, a Loss; but None Expects Any Positive Change Soon, Kuleshova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 2 – Russians are divided not only about Putin’s war in Ukraine but about the consequences of different outcomes for their country, Anna Kuleshova says. Some fear that if Putin wins, he will become even more repressive at home while others are convinced that if he loses, he will nonetheless survive and seek to track down and punish his opponents.

            The sociologist who heads the Social Researchers across Borders group stresse s that she and her colleagues have not heard from any of the Russians they have heard from any “optimistic predictions for the next five to ten years” (

            Instead, Russians in her sample increasingly mention their fears including the possibility that the conflict in Ukraine will lead to nuclear war or that Russian soldiers returning from the front will wreak havoc on Russian society. But almost everyone expressed concerns that whatever happens in Ukraine, more repressions are ahead for Russia.

            According to Kuleshova, Russians also fear a collapse in healthcare and especially in the availability of medications for chronic conditions, their inability to speak to anyone including close family members about the war lest they be denounced, and their uncertainty about what the future will hold for their children if the latter remain in Russia.

            Those she surveyed believe that only 20 to 30 percent of the population supports the war; but they can’t be sure because it is dangerous to talk about the war and many hide their opinions lest they land in trouble. Many say that they fear that anyone who brings up the war may be a provocateur intent on compromising them.

            But according to Kuleshova, “very few Russians who supported the war earlier have ceased to do so,” while the number who back it now has increased because ever more people seem to believe or at least say they believe the official propaganda in support of continuing the fight there.

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