Moscow, Mar 30 (EFE).- “My life has collapsed” Mikhail, a writer from Moscow who prefers to stay anonymous for security reasons, tells Efe.
“Tomorrow no longer exists,” he says, looking at his wife and 5-months old son.
Mikhail’s fear and uncertainty of what the future for Russians since the invasion of Ukraine may look like is shared by many.
Since president Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of its neighbor over one month ago, life in Russia has deteriorated rapidly.
Tough western sanctions have caused a steep inflation of the Russian ruble, with families struggling to make ends meet, while the crackdown on independent media and propaganda about the “special military operation” in Ukraine has kept many in the dark.
“We have fallen into a totalitarian regime in a planned way, (…) Putin is a dark genius,” Alexandr, a 62-year-old sculptor, tells Efe.
Some like Alexandr and Mikhail believe Russia’s authoritarian turn has been in the works since 2002, when the first independent media outlets were shut down over corruption accusations.
While at the time Mikhail still believed there was a chance to fight back, today he is contemplating between living under a totalitarian regime or in exile.
“There are those who say being poor means being free. That’s a lie, poverty deprives you of freedom of choice, of freedom,” he says.
Fellow Moscovite Alexandr echoes that sentiment.
“Russia has been thrown into a turbulence in which it is impossible to foresee the future,” he tells Efe.
Alexandr says he never expected the Russian aggression to spread across the entire country of Ukraine.
“In this situation, in the midst of this uncertainty and absurdity, it is impossible to have constructive ideas, to predict what will happen to my country that I love” he says.
OPPOSING IDEOLOGIES, SHARED FEARS
According to polls, Alexandr and Mikhail are the minority.
Some 80% of Russians support Putin and his “special military operation” in Ukraine, latest polls show, including Vladimir, a veteran from Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
“For the rest of the world it is hard to imagine how we lived in Crimea when it was Ukrainian. It was a real fascist regime. You could be put in jail not because you bribed someone, but because you didn’t bribe him. Widespread corruption, everywhere,” he tells Efe.
He says Ukrainian authorities forbade him to speak Russian and forced him to change his name to the Ukrainian version.
“Is that normal?” he says.
But while Alexandr, Mikhail and Vladimir have differing ideologies, they share the same feeling of uncertainty for Russia.