The original text in Russian was published in Republic
. A slightly shortened version is being republished here with their permission.
As part of the sociological project Skrytye mneniia (“Hidden Opinions”), which
I started on my own initiative in 2022 and continued in 2023, I talked with Russians of different ages, professions, identities and lifestyles, both those who stayed in Russia and those who left.Happy new year, happy new fear
In 2023, a lot changed in the lives and outlooks of my respondents. At the end of 2022, they spoke more often about hope for an imminent peace, that in the winter of 2022-23 there would be a turning point and the regime would collapse; the duration of the war was being counted in days, not years. By the end of 2022, many who had left still had property in Russia, were trying to work remotely and were in no hurry to adjust to the everyday life of their host countries. Those who stayed hoped that the darkness enveloping the country would not last long, and that soon life would go back to normal. It was very hard on women, some of whom had to hide from strangers the fact that their husbands and/or sons had dodged the mobilization, and sent them money earned in Russia so that they would have something to live on in a foreign country. They lived in hope of a speedy reunion.
By the end of 2023, fatigue from unmet expectations and fears about the future began to be acutely felt. For those who remain in Russia, it is a fear that the worst pages of the country’s twentieth-century history will be repeated: more and more people will be forced to speak in whispers, to fear denunciations.
Those who plan to leave the country have a different fear of the future: it is the unknown and the awareness of the inevitability of unforeseen difficulties. One respondent succinctly formulated it this way: