Staunton, Nov. 30 – Russians have long viewed writing letters to their ruler as their last chance to achieve justice; and so it is no surprise that today, they are continuing this tradition and devoting most of their missives to problems arising from the dispatch of Russian military units to Ukraine.
The Important Stories portal says that every month, the Kremlin now receives “more than 100,000 letters.” Before the war, most were about problems with pay and official abuses of the rights of Russians. Now, these letters are increasingly about the war and Russian military service (istories.media/stories/2023/11/29/na-chto-rossiyane-zhaluyutsya-putinu/).
Not only have the letters sent to Putin increasingly been about military problems, but the number of letters has increased as well. In 2018, the Kremlin was receiving approximately 2300 a month. In 2022, that number has risen to “more than 80,000” and now is even higher with no end of this trend in sight.
Much but not all of this increase has to do with the war. Since February 2022, Russians have sent “more than 180,000” letters to Putin concerning military issues; and that number too appears to be increasing the longer the war continues and the more widely it touches Russians in their personal lives.
The Kremlin still reports every month on the number of letters it receives; and as recently as 2022, its officials said that they had examined 97 percent of the letters. But that doesn’t mean that they did more than look at them. According to one former official with direct knowledge of this system, it took actions in the case of only 1.3 percent.
The fact that so many Russians continue to use this traditional means of seeking redress for their grievances shows that the war in Ukraine is agitating far more of the population in that country than protests or polls typically suggest. Indeed, these letters as a whole can be read as an important barometer of public attitudes about the war itself.