Anastasia thinks about leaving Russia. Here’s what his life looks like today: NPR


Not all Russians agree with their government’s military actions in Ukraine, but speaking out can have major repercussions.

Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images


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Anastasia thinks about leaving Russia. Here's what his life looks like today: NPR

Not all Russians agree with their government’s military actions in Ukraine, but speaking out can have major repercussions.

Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

Anastasia considered leaving Moscow as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues. She feels trapped, cut off from the world, and the impact of her government’s war is now felt throughout her daily life.

“You see all these policemen, you see all these new laws and how they try to tell you how to live, how to breathe, what to say,” Anastasia said.

NPR only uses her first name because she is concerned about the potential consequences of speaking out. Hundreds of Russians who dared to question the war have already been arrested.

“You’re removed from everyone else and you just need to live in this alternate universe,” Anastasia said. “And also, you can’t help, and you can’t say anything about Ukraine…you can’t even transfer money because…if you do, it will be announced that you are sponsoring an organization terrorist, even if it’s a charity.”

While Ukraine suffers from the brutal invasion, those in Russia are affected in different ways. Communications have been restricted inside the country and those who speak out are being punished and beaten, according to an independent Russian human rights group.

Anastasia thinks about leaving Russia. Here's what his life looks like today: NPR

Police detain a protester during a demonstration against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in central St. Petersburg on February 27, 2022.

SERGEI MIKHAILICHENKO/AFP via Getty Images


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SERGEI MIKHAILICHENKO/AFP via Getty Images

Anastasia thinks about leaving Russia. Here's what his life looks like today: NPR

Police detain a protester during a demonstration against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in central St. Petersburg on February 27, 2022.

SERGEI MIKHAILICHENKO/AFP via Getty Images

Anastasia said it’s best to use group chats in protected networks like Telegram for accurate, non-promotional information, since radio and TV stations are often state-sponsored.

“We don’t have a lot of free media right now because some of them had to leave Russia, had to close their establishment,” she said.

Most of her friends and family struggle to find accurate information, but Anastasia said many Russians either don’t know what’s really going on in Ukraine or “they just decide to believe what their says our government. In Anastasia’s experience, it is older Russians who are more likely to toe the government line.

This is a belief supported by an independent polling firm in Russia, the Levada Center, which asked citizens about their thoughts on the conflict with Ukraine. When asked if they personally support the actions of the Russian military in Ukraine, 64% of respondents aged 55 and over said “absolutely yes”, compared to 29% of people aged 18-24. .

The Levada Center poll found that, overall, 81% of respondents of all ages said they support the Russian military in Ukraine to some degree. This leaves those who oppose the war in a difficult position, Anastasia said.

“You can talk about it with your friends, like in a play or something, but you can’t talk about it in the media. I mean, at the beginning we tried and we did it. But there’s has a few laws that now…make it almost impossible, or you just worry about getting arrested because of it.”

Anastasia said a friend of hers shared something on her personal social account and was arrested after being tagged a few days later. The friend was eventually charged and had to pay a fine.

Anastasia thinks about leaving Russia. Here's what his life looks like today: NPR

Ukrainian servicemen look at a destroyed Russian tank on a road in the village of Rusaniv, in the kyiv region, on April 16, 2022.

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Anastasia thinks about leaving Russia. Here's what his life looks like today: NPR

Ukrainian servicemen look at a destroyed Russian tank on a road in the village of Rusaniv, in the kyiv region, on April 16, 2022.

GENIA SAVILOV/AFP via Getty Images

Widespread sanctions against Russia are also starting to take effect. The cost of living is higher now, Anastasia said, and it’s harder to access money or use credit cards unless someone is traveling abroad. Many companies are also leaving Russia, including that of Anastasia. She works for an international group that recently announced plans to sell its Russian business, leaving her future job in limbo.

Then there’s the simple mental toll, Anastasia said.

“You feel angry. You feel frustrated. You can’t work or you can’t focus on anything,” she said.

“It’s really essential to understand that a lot of people, they don’t support our government, and they also feel trapped on both sides. I mean, I feel like the Russians are not welcome in their country and also they are not welcome in the outside world.

“And the idea of ​​people breaking up and not supporting each other, that’s also what drives me crazy. Because the people of Ukraine – there are a lot of our friends or relatives…it’s not not like they were total strangers.”


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