Russians Suddenly Stop Buying Putin’s Anti-American Propaganda Books

MOSCOW — It’s easy to see why President Vladimir Putin might think Tensions on the Ukrainian border and blame it all on NATO and the United States will rally his faltering support at home, but this time something else is happening.

Most Russians don’t buy it.

Propaganda levels in the country have reached near-hysterical levels this year after anti-Putin protests swept the country following the attempted murder and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The drums of war against Ukraine are getting louder this week, and Putin has made increasingly silly NATO demands that were the main focus of his talks during the video conference summit. with President Biden earlier this month. He must have known those requests could never be met.

If you follow the local – state-owned – television stations in Russia, you are constantly warned that a new war is near; that Russia will bravely sided with the West; and America is the real enemy.

That message increasingly falls on deaf ears.

Research published this week of the Levada Center for Analysis found that for the first time in years, more Russians think positively than negatively about the US – between 45% and 42%.

When Levada asked the same question in May, only 31% said the US was “good” compared with 54% “bad”.

During those months of intervention, Moscow accused Washington of “stoking tensions” over Ukraine, the gas pipeline, Navalny and hacking. Diplomatic tensions have resulted in the US embassy cutting 75% of its staff in Moscow and no longer processing visas, meaning Russians who want US tourist visas and green cards must now apply there. Warsaw. An agreement is being worked on to fix that particular predicament, but it shows the real impact of diplomatic wrangling on ordinary people.

“Politicians and ordinary people often have different agendas,” said Susanna Emirali, a young ad producer. “Most of my friends understand that ordinary Americans are great.”

Emirali is typical of Russians who now reject state propaganda. She says she avoids watching political talk shows on television and prefers to read her news on online independent channels. She believes the US has nothing to do with Russia’s biggest problems and hopes the conflict between Moscow and Washington will end soon.

While Moscow and Washington are worried about “red lines” and ensuring security, ordinary Russians are growing weary of the aggressive anti-Western propaganda broadcast from their TVs every night. . This gave rise to assumptions for years that Putin could turn the tide of Russian anti-Americanism at will.

During last year’s pandemic, Emirali said she saw her mother and father’s eyes begin to open. Both engineers were in their late forties, they stopped watching television and started reading news on independent websites, first learning about poisoning attack Navalny, then return arrest and in terms of volume anti-protest in both Russia and Belarus.

“They started to sympathize with the arrested peaceful protesters, so their political views changed, they openly blamed Putin for domestic problems,” Emirali said.

The author of the Levada report, Lev Gudkov, said there has been a fundamental change in Russia. “We see deepening public frustration in Putin’s leadership: incomes have fallen 13% since 2010 and during the pandemic many people have lost their jobs and are growing poorer; he said. “It is important to understand that Russians are now less tolerant of anti-American propaganda, which angers people during the pandemic to see that the state spends more money on weapons. gas and prepare for war rather than into our new hospitals, district clinics — our. Medical services are in bad shape. ”

Gudkov said that the majority of Russians believe that Putin is responsible for their woes. “The Russians realize that it is not the United States that is responsible for domestic problems. As for international affairs, people worry about war – an absolute majority 75% of our respondents say that military tensions on the border with Ukraine could spark a war between Russia and Ukraine,” he told The Daily Beast.

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov, used this week’s ceremony to echo the words of another Nobel Peace Prize laureate, former president Mikhail Gorbachev. He once told ministers were agitating for deeper military adventure to “stop your hawkish behaviour.”

Muratov repeated that request, and Calling on journalists and politicians to “stop hawking” now.

Ordinary Russians dream of an end to Cold War rhetoric and for the authorities to stop seeing Washington as public enemy No.

And yet, when The Daily Beast approached a pro-Kremlin analyst to ask about Russia’s tensions with the West and Ukraine, we learned that it was all America’s fault.

Dmitry Drobniysky said: “Americans should understand the word ‘undo’ and restore the situation that we had in Ukraine in 2013 when it was in Russia’s sphere of influence.

On television, the propagandists continued to shoot. After Putin-Biden talks, one of the key supporters of the Kremlin, Dmitry Kisilyov told viewers that Americans are beginning to realize that Russia is now the dominant force: “Since the 1990s, America has behaved as if they were winners of the Cold War but their sense of superiority has melted away. when decades passed and after two long hours Putin-Biden conversation nothing left of it. “

In fact, many people are questioning the propaganda. Olga Alekseyeva, a retired doctor from Saint Petersburg, said she has watched viral reports of inhuman acts, including torture, in Russian prisons, which house people dissidents like Navalny.

She was one of nine million people who watched a recent explosive event Documentary about Yuriy Dud on YouTube. “People are over-analyzing the unjust court system, the lawlessness in the security services here, so I’m not surprised that there are more Russians like the West,” Alekseyeva told The Daily Beast. “My friends in San Francisco tell me how difficult and expensive life is in America, but I personally thank the US for trying to help Russia. Maybe they have no real sympathy for our political prisoners, it’s just a political agenda, but at least they talk to Putin and he listens to them – that’s great. . Sometimes, I think, maybe Putin is completely isolated.”

Many young Russians pay little attention to political news. Karen Shainyan young movies Russian for his journalistic project “Queerography” on YouTube.

So far, he has filmed the lives of LGBTQ people in eight regions of Russia, including Yakutia in the extreme north, Vladivostok in the east, Sochi on the Black Sea and Tatarstan on the Volga River. “We interviewed 10 people in Kazan, three of whom are IT professionals planning to move to the United States. There is a lot of respect for the West in our community, for countries like the United States where gay people have rights. “

Putin is facing a slowly evolving generation problem, with young people striving for independence, but the coronavirus has also accelerated his problems.

There have been more than 800,000 deaths in Russia since the pandemic began. Voters have protested against Russian politicians, complaining about poor health services, meager wages, miserable pensions and unemployment in recent parliamentary and local elections. “I have talked to dozens of unhappy Russians about their lives who blame the government but I have not met anyone in Saint Petersburg who would blame the US for their domestic troubles,” countered. opposite to Deputy Boris Vishnevsky told The Daily Beast. “I’m not surprised the propaganda doesn’t work.” Russians Suddenly Stop Buying Putin’s Anti-American Propaganda Books


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