May 06, 2024

Small Things Can Fix Everything


Small Things Can Fix Everything
A presidential election protest in 2021.  Sergey Korneev, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

After a particularly difficult four years since the start of the pandemic and two years since the start of Russia's full-blown War on Ukraine, many Russians not surprisingly report higher levels of loneliness, isolation, and hopelessness. Takie Dela interviewed Russians who have fought against  despair by becoming active in their communities

Elena, a 30-year-old new to Kirov, joined in the efforts to find Twix the cat, who had been thrown off a train passing through to St. Petersburg. Although Twix unfortunately met his end before rescue squads assembled by the community could find him, Elena felt inspired by their teamwork and dedication to the cause. This experience reminded Elena of her ability to empathize: “There is something humane in us – at least in relation to our smaller brothers [animals], and this is already important."

For Irina, 57, collecting signatures for Boris Nadezhdin to appear on the presidential ballot represented a way to safely oppose the war in Ukraine. Irina, who had rarely voted in the past and had little interest in politics, saw support of Nadezhdin in her town of Tula as a way to build a community of like-minded people, both for political good and to make new friends.

Lev, 34, a Muscovite who emigrated abroad in 2022, also found that supporting Nadezhdin by gathering signatures among Russian emigres gave him a newfound sense of purpose and hope for Russia, even from beyond its borders. 

Others interviewed by Takie Dela mentioned the benefits of environmental and civic volunteering. Anna, 39, is fighting to prevent a landfill from being built near her small town in Arkhangelsk Oblast, while Liza, 30, hopes to stop the destruction of an eighteenth-century house in Yekaterinburg.

As Liza told Takie Dela, "I don't feel powerless anymore."

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