Saturday, January 13, 2024

Russians So Divided by Putin’s War in Ukraine that Some Supporters and Opponents are Now Killing Each, Court Records Show

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 10 – Passions about Putin’s war in Ukraine are now running so high that some supporters and opponents are fighting one another, with a few cases leading to serious injuries or even deaths, according to an examination of court records carried out by Novaya Vkladka and Mediazona.

            The journalists from these two outlets found “more than 30 cases” in which judges acknowledged that differences of opinion had led to fights that had resulted either in deaths or permanent injuries ( and

            Some of these involved people returning from the front but many were the result of clashes between those who have remained at home but feel strongly one way or another about the war and have allowed their passions, often when they have been drinking, to spill over into violence in Russian cities and towns.

            Often those who have fought take the view that anyone who opposes them should be beaten or killed; but quite often they are the result of comments by opponents of the war who are so against that conflict that they say things others view as a provocation and respond to with violence.

            The journalists say that there are likely far more cases of violence and murder that are the result of differences of opinion over the war than the courts acknowledge. In most judgments that are released, the courts do not specify the causes of such crimes beyond suggesting that they are the result of “everyday” issues, paralleling how Russian courts handle ethnic and religious fights.

            But however that may be, many observers are inclined to think this is a marginal issue because such cases represent such a small percentage of those involving violence in the Russian Federation. One Russian sociologist Andrey Pozdnyakov disagrees. He says that these cases “can serve as evidence of the split of society and even a hybrid civil war.”

            He points out that a civil war exists when there is “an ideological confrontation” within a country, and Russia has exactly that now: there are people who agree with what is happening, and there are people who disagree.” Those who agree “feel they are right and are backed by the state” and thus at liberty to attack those who don’t.

            Another Russian sociologist, Aleksandr Bayanov, agrees. He argued that Russia had been in a state of civil war since 1922 and was further divided in recent decades because “reconciliation procedures weren’t implemented” after the USSR collapsed.” Had they been, the current problems and divides might not be happening.


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