In La Tribune 08/03/2022
Writing these lines a few days after the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian army, and after having worked for several years in the Russian environment I asked the feeling of Muscovites about the war in Ukraine. The Russian population seems to be clearly split in two, one part supports the Kremlin, the other one is against the war. Here are some conversations, without filter, which illustrate this division.
The first group is pro-Kremlin.
It suffers from pressure from the authorities due to the new laws punishing the dissemination of anti-patriotic information with prison. The lack of reliable information can lead to disarming conclusions.
Why the bombing of civilians in Ukraine?
“I’ve already seen so much Western fake news: Colin Powell and the anthrax test tube in the United Nations that justified the Iraq war. And who protested when the West bombed Belgrade or Libya? Can you confirm that the pictures are original, that the damage is in Ukraine and done by Russian troops or those in Donbass. I have seen so many photoshopped images: Belgrade, Syria, Donetsk.”
The International Criminal Court will investigate for war crimes.
“No, it will not investigate, because the Russian army surrounds cities rather than destroys them. Has it ever investigated the bombing of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and the killing of refugees on the Belarus-Poland border in October and November 2021? Similarly for the Skripal attack or the downed MH 17 plane, each time if Russia is blamed no evidence is sought (sic), it is guilty by default.”
Why the nuclear threat?
“It was an overstatement. The Kremlin said that it would react if Sweden and Finland joined NATO. Here again the media choose an interpretation. If NATO dissolves, the tension will ease.”
“The Ministry of Defense said on TV that Ukrainian nationalists tried to set fire to the Zaporjia nuclear power plant last night.”
“I am against the war and I am of Ukrainian origin, but this war was not Russia’s choice. Ukraine is at fault, it has been bombing the Donbass since 2014 as the French journalist Anne Laure Bonnel says and films. Kiev has not complied with the Minsk agreements, it has even closed its rail transport to exports of Belarusian potash and steel products of Russian metallurgists.”
The second group is against the war.
They have been informed by Internet and social networks, they do not understand the origin of this war, its form and its targets, and they protest.
“The military say on TV that they bomb only Ukrainian forces that do not surrender. I don’t understand why Russia is bombing cities and civilians, it’s a tragedy.”
“50% of Russians are victims of intense pressure from the power, they repeat the Kremlin propaganda for fear of prison. But 50% of Russians are against the war. They protest modestly because they don’t know how to do it and they are afraid of the Kremlin and prison. We need your support to get out of this nightmare.
“When my country is at war, it is to defend itself, it is because it is invaded, not to invade another country. Ukraine, Ukrainians are our brothers and sisters and we bomb them.”
“Invading Ukraine, bombing Ukraine is the church of France invading and bombing the Vatican “
“I am ashamed of my country”
“Now the Kremlin has two enemies, the Ukrainians and half of the Russian population who are against the war. It fears their alliance and that it will overthrow it.