Imaginary Threat

How many people so far have been punished in Russia for avoiding mobilization?

Zero, of course. There are no resources even to keep track of them, let alone to prosecute. As usual, the scary Putin dictatorship is a myth. People are afraid of imaginary consequences that never come.

This reminds me how back in my student years in Ukraine, I discovered, to my enormous shock, that every single student in my cohort at the university had given a bribe to be admitted into the program. I hadn’t given any bribes and knew for a fact that no bribes were solicited at any point in the process. When I talked to my fellow students about it, they admitted that nobody had asked them for a bribe. They assumed that it was impossible to gain admission without bribing somebody, found people who worked at the university (and often had nothing to do with admissions), and gave them gigantic, unsolicited, unnecessary bribes. They were probably all accepted into the program on their merits but assumed it was thanks to the bribe.

Almost all of these students lived in great poverty. They had to go into debt and go hungry for months to collect money for the bribe. My best friend in college spent two years saving for it. I could have paid that amount easily because I was making good money but it never occurred to me.

When I revealed that I had paid nothing and experienced zero problems with admission, my fellow students became upset and boycotted me for a month. Today I would have concealed that the bribe had never been necessary out of kindness but back then I was young, and it wasn’t something I was likely to do.

Thankfully, in Ukraine people seem to have unlearned this cosmic, baseless anxiety. But in Russia they haven’t. They’d rather go to a near-certain death to escape from a scary fantasy instead of observing reality and engaging with it.

There’s this YouTube channel that N loves where Ukrainian journalists talk to these confused, scared Russian conscripts. “How many people in Russia have been jailed for avoiding the draft?” a journalist asks. “I don’t know. A lot?” a skinny, underfed conscript answers. “Not a single one,” the journalist says. “Oh…” mumbles the conscript. “Oh…”


2 thoughts on “Imaginary Threat

  1. OT: russian propaganda about people moving to America…. (very hilarious)

    and…. one thing that strikes me is how passively compliant they are… would russians really let a stewardess take away food from them?
    I can’t imagine Polish passengers letting that happen and I’m afraid to think of what might happen if you try to take food from a Ukrainian….

    Liked by 1 person

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