Russian has become the language of fear. My parents avoid discussing politics over the phone; they’re not alone. Since the Kremlin has strangled freedom of speech, most Russians I know are afraid to publicly express their opinions. They’ve gone back to Soviet-era’ kitchen conversations to share their views on politics.
We have seen the Kremlin crack down violently on protests about elections and political prisoners like Aleksei A. Navalny. On the day Putin launched his full-scale assault on Ukraine, the government issued a statement warning that Russians who protest could face prosecution.
I was heartened, and scared, to see that the warning did not stop Russians from turning out in force that same day. Protests took place across Russia, from Moscow to St. Petersburg to Khabarovsk. Signs bore messages like “No War” and “Do you see evil and keep silent? Partner in crime!” Nearly 1,800 people were arrested.
This War Is Not in My Name
By Irina Kuznetsova
Dr. Kuznetsova emigrated from Russia to Britain in 2014. She is an associate professor of human geography at the University of Birmingham.