July 02, 2024

Small-Town Russia and the War


Small-Town Russia and the War
The Reftinsky reservoir in the Sverdlovsk region. Vasily Iakovlev, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

It can be difficult to navigate between Russian state media claims and the varied opinions of people living across Russia, especially when it comes to Russia's war in Ukraine. There are supporters of the war who accept the Kremlin narratives, and there are oppositionists who put themselves in harm's way to protest the war, who are the people in between?

In 2022, researchers in a sociology laboratory began collecting data from individual citizens in distinct regions to get a better overview of Russians' perspective on the war. Their findings were published on Meduza. 

The sociologists conducted interviews and observed conversations in public spaces, talking to cab drivers, salespeople, bartenders, and manicurists, among many others. In one town in the Sverdlovsk region, population 12,000, the researchers found that most signs of support for the war have disappeared: bumper stickers, posters for mobilization, and even public conversations among residents. 

Under the surface, however, the war had touched the lives of most Cheryomushkino citizens. Almost everyone the researchers interviewed was personally acquainted with someone who had gone to the front, and many knew someone who had died.

Their conclusion? While many townspeople were dismayed by the numbers of deaths and the forced conscription of soldiers, they still believe the Kremlin regarding the necessity and inevitability of the invasion. 

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