Saturday, October 28, 2023

Anti-War Graffiti Work of Russia’s ‘Semiotic Partisans,’ Activists Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 26 – Shortly after Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine, Russians began expressing their opposition to his war with graffiti of various kinds. Aleksandr Arkhipova, an anthropologist, collected almost 500 examples from across the Russian Federation; and others have followed in her wake.

            Such graffiti has spread because it is often difficult for the powers to identify who is responsible and punish them and because of the conviction of its perpetrators that by using graffiti, they can break the notion promoted propaganda that opponents of the war are few in number (

            The organizers of a recent collection of such street art describe those behind them as “semiotic partisans,” who “like real partisans who blow up trains … are traying to undermine the information blockade about Russians” and to “show that support for the war is not the position of the majority.”

            According to Arkhipova, those who use graffiti to express their views come from all age groups. What unites them, she suggests, is that “the majority of them act as individuals” rather than as part of this or that group and that they direct their messages less to the powers that be than to other Russians, calling on them to “leave their comfort zones” and opposite the war.

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