Wed. Jun 7th, 2023

The war between Russia and Ukraine has left Russian youth in a psychological and emotional dilemma. Anti-government Russians living in the country are trying to build a better society.

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Critics of Russia’s war against Ukraine and fear of joining the Russian army in that conflict have left thousands of Russians. Twenty-one-year-old Masha Zhanchevskaya is one of the few young Russians who is still trying to please her family and compatriots by staying in her country.

In the early days of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, young aspiring film director Masha Zhanchevskaya remembers riding the Moscow metro and chatting with passengers. Sitting in a cafe in Moscow, he spoke with AFP news agency. “One day, I looked into the eyes of a young man and we both cried without saying anything,” he said, looking out of the cafe’s window.

Thousands of Russians who criticize Moscow’s campaign in Ukraine or fear being drafted into the war have fled their homeland. The Kremlin has described this historic expulsion of Russians from the country as “self-purification”.

Masha and other Russians like her decided to stay in the country. Masha explains that many of her friends have left the country and it was very difficult for her to explain to her friends why she decided not to leave the country.

Closer to society rather than escapism

Masha Zhanchevskaya became closer to her family by living in the country. “I try to be more gentle, more patient,” she says. It is better to stay together than to avoid discussion and create distance as a result.

Masha says she is grateful that her family shares and shares similar views. However, after her decision not to leave the country, Masha said she has also become more cautious about her online activities. It should be noted that the Russian authorities have announced punishments for spreading any fake or defamatory news about the Russian military.

Attitudes of Russian youth

A large part of the educated Russian youth living in the big cities often disagrees with the Kremlin. “The lack of prospects for a better future and the sense of isolation from political life drives young people to flee the country,” says Zelena Omelchenko, a sociologist who studies the behavior of young Russians. “Such young people only plan for a few months at a time,” added sociologist Zelena Omelchenko, adding that demand for antidepressants has increased by 50 percent over the years.

According to a survey by pollster Levada Center, an independent research organization, young people in Russia who are at odds with the authorities are not in the majority. The survey, conducted in January, found that nearly 30 percent of Russians aged 18 to 24 were against “the actions of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine.”

Trying to make society “healthier”.

Masha Zhanchevskaya says she wants to try to make her society “healthier,” adding, “I want to help the rest of Russia through arts and education.” “We must do everything possible to ensure that this tragedy never happens again.”

Meanwhile, sociologist Zelena Omelchenko said that young people in Russia are looking to organize short-term projects, such as fundraising for refugees, volunteering or organizing cultural events. According to Zelina, through these types of activities, the behavior of the society can also be changed, although their “agenda does not correspond to the agenda of the state.”

Other Russians, however, have opted for “internal exile” reminiscent of the Soviet era, distancing themselves from a society with which they disagree.

Many young Russians are busying themselves with positive activities in search of a different dimension. Some are trying creative and constructive work and focusing all their attention on books and art. A young woman named Sweena avoids political discussions in her home. He says that his grandmother is a big supporter of Vladimir Putin. Therefore, they do not discuss politics at home. “I try not to spread more hate in this world,” she says.

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