Saturday, January 13, 2024

Putin has Blocked Rise of Anti-War Attitudes Less by Money and Repression than by Promoting Notions that Professionals are Doing the Fighting and that Life of Others Remains Normal, Levinson Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 10 – It has become commonplace to suggest that Vladimir Putin has maintained support among Russians for his war in Ukraine and blocked the spread of anti-war attitudes by spreading money around to those who go and by repressing any manifestations of opposition.

            But Aleksey Levinson, a longtime Levada Center sociologist, argues that there are two deeper factors at work that have been in play among Russians since the war in Afghanistan at the end of Soviet times (

            Russians first of all, he says, have traditionally made a sharp distinction between wars fought by professional soldiers and those which have involved draftees or ordinary people otherwise mobilized. The former, he says, are viewed as the work of those who have chosen to fight and thus backed while the latter involve compulsion and generate opposition.

            Consequently, as long as Putin is able to present the current war as the work of professional soldiers and avoid mass mobilization, he is likely to be deferred to and a serious anti-war movement is unlikely to emerge.

            Related to this is a second factor which also works for Putin and against the emergence of an opposition movement: the promotion of a sense of normalcy in the population. As long as things go on much as they have, good or bad, Russians don’t see the war having come home and are prepared to defer to the powers that be on its conduct.

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