As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine looms into its second week, it seems unlikely that the conflict will be the quick and simple victory that Vladimir Putin might have hoped for.
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There are several factors at play. Putin may have underestimated capabilities of Ukrainian forces. A generous international supply of weapons and aid has been and is being approached with the resistance. And the powerful sanctions imposed by Western allies are began to affect the Russian economy.
As Putin finds himself in the midst of an increasingly difficult war to navigate, dissent is growing domestically. Ordinary Russians are taking to the streets, anti-corruption activists are lobbying Western leaders and oligarchs and politicians are risking it all to speak out against the invasion.
Anti-war protests have taken place every day in Russia since Putin’s time green light for an invasion of Ukraine Last Thursday. Although Russian police have attempted to crack down on such gatherings, protests have occurred “from Moscow to Siberia”, reports Related press (AP).
Thousands of protesters have marched in city centers across Russia over the past few days, an act of defiance in a country where “mass spontaneous demonstrations are illegal and protesters may face fines and imprisonment.” washington articles.
According to Russia’s independent human rights group OVD-InfoMore than 6,440 people have been arrested in anti-war protests since 24 February in a total of 103 cities.
Similar movements are taking place online, with tens of thousands of Russians signing open letters and petitions condemning their country’s attack on the neighboring country. A “Don’t War” petition on the Change.org website has received more than a million signatures, says New Yorkers.
Many Russian actors, influencers, athletes and other famous figures have used their public platforms to condemn the war.
In one Instagram Post about the crisis has received a million “likes”, Yuri Dud, a popular Russian journalist and YouTuber, said he is expressing his views “with exactly one motive”.
“When my children grow up [and] asked: “Dad, what are you doing?”
These courageous acts of dissent can be extremely powerful. The aforementioned Zoya Sheftalovich Politico.
“They are seeing pictures of apartment blocks, kindergartens being bombed, children dead. They see that this will not be a walk. “
Disagreement from within parliament
Resistance is also coming from within Russia’s political system, with three members of parliament breaking ranks to criticize the war in Ukraine over the past few days. Three dissidents from the Communist Party of Russia, which is “usually loyal” to Putin on “important issues”, said New York Times (NYT).
One of the politicians, Mikhail Matveyev, is said to have tweeted “War should be stopped immediately” on Saturday night. Another, Vyacheslav Markhaev, said that with reason recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as republics, “we have concealed our plan to open an all-out war with our closest neighbour”.
In the past, such critical statements have become increasingly “rare” among members of Russia’s lower house of parliament. “But after Russia invaded Ukraine, dozens of public figures… some of whom were even considered pro-Kremlin, clearly expressed their anti-war views.”
Call from the elite
Analysis by Forbes shows that around 116 Russian billionaires have lost $126 billion in wealth since February 16. Three billionaires – Oleg Deripaska, Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Tinkov – have called for an end to the conflict.
Fridman, founder of Russia’s largest private bank, tells employees that “war can never be the answer”, reports Time. And Tinkov, a famous Russian businessman and founder of Moscow-based bank Tinkoff, said on social media: “Innocent people are dying in Ukraine, every day. This is unthinkable and unacceptable! ”
The war sent shock waves through Russia’s elite. Abbas Gallyamov, a speaker turned political analyst, said: “There isn’t any plan in their scheme for their business to go down and they end up as potential defendants at The Hague”.
However, he added, “it would be a mistake to expect any move from them. The elite have always been afraid of Putin, but now they fear him even more. If he is willing to bomb Kyiv, he can imprison them – and not only that. They all know about the torture cells.”
Threats from competitors
One of the most significant threats to Putin from within Russia comes from the movement of prisoners. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Long before the current crisis began, the anti-corruption campaigner was “the most prominent face of the Russian opposition” to Putin, BBC. In 2020, he nearly died after being attacked with the nerve agent Novichok in Siberia. After recovering, he returned to Russia from Germany and was detained.
But even behind bars, Navalny is still trying to attract his supporters and millions of followers on Russian social networks. On Monday, his Twitter account management team called for what Reuters described as “a civil disobedience campaign to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”.
“We have to show that we are not in favor of war. We call on the Russians to show civil disobedience. Don’t be silent,” it said.
Navalny’s allies have also drawn up a list of 35 oligarchs and “agitators” of the Putin regime, whom they want to see as targets of the West, putting pressure on the country’s leaders. other than taking action. The list was read by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran in the UK parliament last week.
Try to refrain from criticism
The Kremlin has tried to downplay the protests and rein in criticism, exerting tighter control over the press and social media platforms to do so. A Reuters reporter in Moscow said that Twitter was particularly slow on Saturday and that it had trouble sending tweets.
Propaganda has played an important role in keep ordinary Russians from questioning the war. The media is said to only use official government sources for their reports, and Kremlin-run TV stations do not show footage of rockets falling over Ukraine. “If we don’t attack, Ukraine will drop nuclear bombs on us,” a Russian pensioner told The Times.
But although there are still many ordinary Russians who do not condemn the war, support for the invasion has not been as unanimous as the Kremlin would like.
“People don’t really support the war, especially the war with Ukraine,” Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, said in an interview with The New Yorker. “More than a third are firmly against military action. There were no pro-war rallies.”
And experts have suggested that more ordinary Russians could turn against Mr. Putin once the impact of Western sanctions really kicks in.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/russia/955931/is-vladimir-putin-under-threat-inside-russia Is Vladimir Putin under threat from within Russia?