Russians Are Unhappy with Putin

On social media, you can see that the disappointment of the regular people in Russia with Putin is growing. More and more often, they criticize him, and the criticism gets harsher every day.

Putin is too tolerant, they say. He’s too kind to Ukrainians. He’s weak. If only he were stronger and really went at those evil Ukrainian bastards. Why doesn’t he kill all the Ukrainian children who were removed from Ukraine and taken to Russia? Why doesn’t he cut their heads off publicly on the Red Square? Or at least put a thousand children at each ammo depot to prevent Ukrainians from bombing them? Why doesn’t he nuke Kyiv? Or London? Why, why?

All American journalists who cover Russia need to spend an hour randomly scrolling through Russian social media. Of course, they’ll need psychiatric help to deal with the trauma but at least they’ll leave fantasy and join reality.

The anti-Putin sentiment in Russia does not only exist on social media. There was a massive demonstration by the Russian nationalists (who hate Putin) in Moscow yesterday. The main message of the participants was that Putin is weak and pathetic. He should be bombing Washington, they said, instead of trying to play nice with the world leaders.

I am yet to see any discontent of regular Russians with the actual fact of the war, with the failing economy, with corruption, the lack of opportunities, etc. Instead, there’s unsatisfied bloodlust that’s scary to observe.

Rather than a brutal dictator, Putin is a weak, waffling fellow who has to start wars to prevent his people from murdering him. Unfortunately, nobody is providing serious analysis. All we see are fantasies, projections, and primitive analogies. We have all interiorized the belief that cultural differences do not exist and humans are interchangeable widgets. As a result, people think they can provide insight without speaking the language or knowing the culture. What’s even worse, they can’t break their addiction to analogies.

Analogies are a psychological self-defense mechanism against the pain of learning. They are addictive because they cocoon us and protect us from coming into contact with reality. Everything new gets looped back to the already digested and familiar. Anxiety is what causes this. What if I find out that the world is a lot bigger, scarier and more confusing than I thought? How can I deal? Nah, forget all that. Let me shut my eyes really tight because if I don’t see scary things, it’s as if they didn’t exist.


40 thoughts on “Russians Are Unhappy with Putin

  1. “they can’t break their addiction to analogies”

    after “humans are interchangeable widgets”

    See? You use analogies yourself!

    Analogies can be a great way of introducing people to new ideas, but they’re a starting point and not a conclusion. “Humans are interchangeable widgets” is a starting point for understanding the neoliberal mindset which is, ironically, brutally non-individualistic. If you play with it and tease it out you can predict many policy positions like immigration being completely about numbers with no thought given to the cultural environments that immigrants come from vs where they end up – because they’re interchangeable widgets and if they don’t work out you just get more.

    It even influences attitudes toward the russian invasion of Ukraine where lots of people (still!) think that of course russia will win because it has a larger population (I’m still coming across this… idea0.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My favorite is “we failed in Afghanistan so we shouldn’t help Ukraine.” Forget that nobody wants US soldiers in Ukraine. Forget that it’s a completely different country. Forget that it’s a functioning nation-state that wants to remain one. It’s so eminently stupid but I keep hearing it.


  2. \ I am yet to see any discontent of regular Russians with the actual fact of the war,

    Considering the case of arrested 10-year-old that I’ve shared now, any unhappy Russians know better than to say anything as long as they are within Russian borders… or even as long as they have any relatives left in Russia.


      1. \ In other words… they’re cowards…. beneath contempt.

        I hope you apply the same standard to millions of citizens of non-democratic countries worldwide.

        Just today posted a story about a Russian 10-year-old who got arrested and her relatives were searched after a school principal reported her for a blue-yellow userpic and saying something against the war.

        My cousin is in Israel already, while the second cousin – still in Russia with his family. Should my aunt in Russia say something and be arrested? Whom will this help exactly?


        1. “I hope you apply the same standard to millions of citizens of non-democratic countries worldwide”

          How many countries are currently threatening to use nuclear weapons against a peaceful neighbor?
          If one person speaks out they might get arrested… if a million speak out then what happens? It’s past cowardice when the stakes were a lot smaller that has brought us to this point.
          Look at the brave women in Iran facing up to real physical peril and then look at healthy young russian men whining about not being able to order food in russian while in someone else’s country…
          Some fundamental aspect of humanity has been broken in russia and making excuses for it doesn’t help.


          1. \ How many countries are currently threatening to use nuclear weapons against a peaceful neighbor?

            How many states have nuclear weapons to begin with? Think it explains the lack of threats in my geographical area.

            North Korea shoots (not nuclear) rockets at Japan from time to time. Read about the latest attempt a few days ago.

            Since you mentioned Iran, this country would’ve been a real threat to my life, if it had nuclear weapons. And, as far as I know, their brave men and women are fighting for their own quality of life, not because they are against supporting terror on principle (as opposed to being against supporting terror since it lowers their standard of living) or against using (the threat of) nuclear weapons to support Palestinians and others.

            The theocratic totalitarian regime in Iran was formed long before Putin and I expect it to outlive Putin too. Using your logic, they deserve contempt for letting their country terrorize huge parts of the Middle East for decades till they decided to protest.


            1. ” Iran, this country would’ve been a real threat to my life, if it had nuclear weapons. …their brave men and women are fighting for their own quality of life, not because they are against supporting terror on principle”

              I dunno… AFAICT it’s the current governing system of Iran that threatens Israel… are there actually cases of private Irans getting involved in terror activities? Cause I can’t think of any (I could be wrong).

              Liked by 1 person

        2. “Whom will this help exactly?”

          While they’re all wondering how not bering total cowards would help anything…. russia is back to shelling downtown Kyiv….
          And they’re doing it during rush hour to kill as many civilians as possible.
          How does your aunt or family still in russia think about that?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Forget the people in Russia. Why are the Russians in emigration, who definitely have nothing to fear, not saying anything? There are two responses we are getting from immigrant Russians, “serves you right, I hope Ukraine gets wiped off the face of the Earth” and “I don’t talk about politics.” Some of these people have never even lived in Putin’s Russia, having emigrated in the 1990s. What are they afraid of? What’s their excuse? It’s been 7 months. Not a single Russian colleague has reached out simply to ask, how are you? Are your relatives safe? The Russian author who lives in Canada, the one whose novel I translated, we were talking two days after the train bombing, and she said not a word. My sister-in-law, a wealthy woman, who lives between Aspen and Courchevel, texts funny videos and jokes but hasn’t once asked, “how are you doing? Are your relatives safe?” The Russian teacher at my department, to whom I’ve been nothing but exceptionally kind, why hasn’t she said a word? In the first weeks of the war, my father’s friends he’d known for decades calling to gloat. “Are you enjoying it? This is just the beginning.” Cars with Ukrainian symbols routinely vandalized in Montreal. These are all people who are not in Russia. What’s their excuse?

            Today at work, I know everybody will come up to express support, ask how I’m doing. Everybody will be human. Why is everybody capable of a normal, human gesture of kindness but Russians never are?


            1. \ my father’s friends he’d known for decades calling to gloat.

              Those are horrible, horrible people. I am sorry.

              // The Russian teacher at my department, to whom I’ve been nothing but exceptionally kind, why hasn’t she said a word?

              May be, she thinks saying anything would’ve been hypocritical. If she thinks Russia had any justification to start this war, the best she can do is to stay silent.

              Were I working in America with a Palestinian colleague, what would I have said about an (imagined) ongoing operation in Gaza, considering I am proud of my and my brother’s IDF service? That I am sorry but we must kill terrorists from time to time? That Palestinians contributed to bring it on themselves with Hamas ideology? That people, who let themselves to live under a dictatorship, deserve nothing but contempt and rip what they sow, quoting cliff?


              1. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Russians are proud, happy and think they have no choice but to kill us.

                Once again, I want to evoke the example of my husband. Highly educated, brilliant, never lived in Putin’s Russia, had no idea who Solovyov even is until I recently told him. He has been completely out of reach of the Russian propaganda for 20 years.

                And with all this, it is only thanks to 15 years of constant conversations, explanations, videos, books, articles, quotes, etc that I’m managing to keep him on course and off the traditional Russian approach. Fifteen years and it’s still on-going.

                Thankfully, he now got addicted to the Arestovich videos, so now Arestovich is doing part of my work.

                You literally don’t get a better Russian than my husband. And this is what it takes.


          2. \ How does your aunt or family still in russia think about that?

            My Jewish aunt is against this war, obviously, and one of her sons is already in our house.

            If she protested now, the second son would be drafted in a minute.


      2. I saw several videos, some quite long, of Russian conscripts complaining about the terrible conditions they are kept in. They aren’t fed or clothed. They aren’t given weapons. They go on and on but there’s not a single word about how the war is wrong. What’s wrong, in their opinion, is that they aren’t fitted out to fight successfully. They don’t question the need to fight. They know they are as good as dead. They say it openly. Yet they still have no problem with the war itself.


    1. I’m guessing the 10-year-old is at home right now while tens of thousands of Ukrainian children are lying in mass graves. I will reserve my compassion for them.


    2. I saw today a video of Russians throwing dead civilians into mass graves. Russians on social media are slobbering over the video, happy, elated. Is it asking too much not to do that? Is it dangerous for them not to celebrate genocide?


      1. “Is it asking too much … for them not to celebrate genocide?”

        Apparently yes. And I’m not the first to go there, but anyone wondering how Nazi Germany happened… look at russia over the last few years, the details (and numbers) are different but it’s exactly the same dynamic… a passive and obedient population outsourcing their decision making above and then pathetically wondering how it all went so wrong…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Putin will eventually croak but all the regular Russians who are happy and fantasizing with more deaths, more rapes, more torture, they will remain. And that’s what’s really scary.


        2. It’s always like this, always.


  3. A good informative post:

    \ В Москве полицейские забрали пятиклассницу с уроков из‑за аватарки с желто‑синими цветами; в полицию обратилась директор школы.

    Мать пятиклассницы пояснила, что в конце сентября ее вызвали в школу, чтобы обсудить пропуски ее дочерью занятий «Разговоры о важном». Тогда же замдиректора, завуч и три социальных педагога спрашивали об аватарке девочки в чате с одноклассниками.

    Как утверждает «ОВД-Инфо», 29 сентября директор школы обратилась к начальнику районного отдела «Некрасовка» — она «хорошо отозвалась об успеваемости и характере девочки», но попросила «обследовать жилищно-бытовые условия семьи и установить причинно-следственные связи <…> гражданской позиции» ребенка.

    Также директор попросила полицию «повлиять на воспитательную позицию» матери, чтобы та не «воздействовала» на дочь «убежденностью собственных политических взглядов». На сайте департамента науки и образования сказано, что руководительницу школы зовут Майя Булаева.


  4. “We have all interiorized the belief that cultural differences do not exist and humans are interchangeable widgets …”

    Me at first: Huh? What’s this “we”, Ukrainian girl?

    Me a moment later: Wait, that explains why there’s this hard press (pun intended) toward making everything a sexual fetish.

    “Instead, there’s unsatisfied bloodlust that’s scary to observe.”

    It gets a lot of people off and is also a kind of sexual fetish.

    Pity the relatively sane people who don’t have this kind of unreleased frustration.

    But let’s be fair, it’s the same crap I heard out of Americans when they were thirsting to “give it back” to Saddam Hussein and his regime in Iraq.

    What they were going to “give it back” for of course was a lie, but that didn’t stop many Americans from wanting to blast the crap out of Baghdad, even when they were shown pictures of it as a modern place with people who mostly didn’t want to wear targets on their backs.

    And these same people wanted to do the same to Tehran, also despite never having been there.

    They can’t even internalise why it would be wrong on purely aesthetic grounds to do such a thing, as if they’ve become even more barbarous over the years than General Sherman.

    “What if I find out that the world is a lot bigger, scarier and more confusing than I thought?”

    What if people learned how to shake hands with the enemy once in a while?

    … nah, can’t imagine it … 🙂


    1. Wait … I just realised you may not get the General Sherman reference.

      When Sherman was on his infamous march to the sea, he burned every city and every town in his path.

      But when Sherman reached Savannah, Georgia, he spared it.

      His stated reason was that Savannah was a beautiful place and that he thought it would be a moral outrage that he could not accept out of himself to order such a place be destroyed.

      So Savannah is where Sherman’s destructive march to the sea stopped.


  5. There are all kinds of Russians. I know there are lots of angry people, who bought state propaganda and feel free to be very vocal on the net and in RL in today’s Russia. As bad as the comparison with Nazi Germany is, lets look at the bright side too – Germans now are light years away from Germans in the 30-50ies.

    Besides, the not-too-bright supporters don’t represent the entire Russian people in the present, let alone the future. For instance, this is one of articles on Israeli news site:

    // “We are all Russian patriots, but we want the Ukrainians to win. This is not our war, this is the war of a crazy dictator” Putin’s laconic recruitment announcement, the bloody sights from eastern Ukraine and the reports of citizens recruited in this way just made these young Russians realize: they are next in line. Daniel refused to move from the border crossing between Russia and Estonia, and in the end came to Israel through Finland. Igor walked with a friend dozens of kilometers on the road to the Caucasus in the freezing cold. And Alexander burst into tears when he looked at his old photos just before the escape: “Suddenly I saw my little story, another loser among all the losers of the war. My nationality made me feel guilty for something I didn’t do.”


  6. Btw, while Russia is ‘boasting’ about old Soviet weapons which have ‘no analogies’ , Israel is developing:

    // “Give a picture of any point in the world in minutes”
    A glimpse of the IDF’s arms race in space for a terrorist position, a weapons convoy or a suspected Iranian plane: the upgraded capabilities of Unit 9900 help bring the required intelligence quickly and efficiently – directly to the forces in the field. Soon thousands more nano-satellites will be added to them, some of them will operate independently. And also: what is the chance that we will observe a collision of satellites in space?


  7. I just caught up on the news today… I am really sorry, Clarissa.
    Regarding the Russians (or really, anyone else) celebrating the atrocities, one thing that comes to mind is homo homini lupus, but perhaps that is unfair to the wolves.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Цветы добра
    Ученикам младших классов в нескольких школах Чебоксар задали нарисовать картины на тему «Нет войне». Минобразования Чувашии уже проводит проверку.

    Чиновники заявили, что они «возмущены данной ситуацией»: «В то время пока наши бойцы, добровольцы ведут борьбу с националистами, этот поступок вызывает недопонимание».

    А это — сами детские рисунки. Фото: «Сердитая Чувашия»


    1. This is beautiful.

      What prevents Russians in Canada or US from doing this? There hasn’t been a single protest of theirs that I know of today. It’s a holiday today in Canada. No work. Plenty of time to come out for a protests. Nope, nothing. As always.


      1. “Plenty of time to come out for a protests. Nope, nothing. As always”

        Stated preference: “Oh lots of russians are against the war they’re just afraid of what will happen to them if they protest”

        Revealed preference: do nothing, tacitly support

        Liked by 1 person

    2. \ OT: demonstration in front of russian embassy in Warsaw…

      People in Warsaw are afraid of being the next in line and have their own very painful history with FSU / Russia. They do not care 100% out of pure altruism. In contrast, American and Canadian citizens have much less reasons to think about geographically distant Europe.

      Were Ukrainians losing sleep over Syria or Iranian terror in the Middle East? Are we in Israel losing sleep over Syria just over the border, except how it may affect our security?

      Putin’s regime must be stopped, 100%. It can bring only destruction and death to the world, including to Russia itself.

      Still, it’s natural that not everybody cares to the same extent like East European countries close to Ukraine, Russia and possible future Russian aggression.

      Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Monday: “I strongly condemn the Russian attacks on the civilian population in Kyiv and other cities across Ukraine. I send our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and the Ukrainian people.”


      1. This is why I don’t like analogies. What does Syria have to do with it? Did Ukraine attack it?

        Of course, before this war if Ukraine invaded Russia, genocided half of Kostroma, razed Nizhny Novgorod to the ground, and bombed the Red Square, I would have protested, raised money and vilified every Ukrainian who didn’t do the same. I think that should be obvious.

        I’m not discussing the need to weep over every conflict far away. I’m speaking specifically about your place of origin committing genocide and war crimes.


        1. Here’s a Russian person in Germany celebrating the bombing of a playground in Kyiv:

          There are thousands of such videos and posts. My favorite is of Russian nurses signing and dancing to the video of the bombing of Kyiv.


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