Russian people have limited information about the truth

Photo courtesy of Kwh1050 via Wikimedia Commons

By Diana Arutyunyan

It’s been a few weeks since Russia began the war with Ukraine. Ever since then, the world has been watching, whether on the news or on social media. Many of us are familiar with what is happening in Ukraine, but not many are as familiar with what is happening in Russia. 

The conflict between the two countries began with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Russia did not want to recognize Ukraine as an independent country. However, Russia did not do anything about it until Ukraine attempted to join NATO and the European Union. 

Recently, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, recognized the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. A few days later the Russian military invaded Ukraine.

The majority of the world has shown support for Ukraine. There have been protests, charitable campaigns, and even political sanctions that seek to aid Ukraine worldwide, even within Russia itself. According to the Washington Post, only 58 percent of Russians are in support of the war. So why don’t the other 42 percent fight against it?

A few years ago I moved from Russia to America so today I can look at the situation from different angles due to some Russian friends and relatives. 

The political situation in Russia is unstable and disturbing. Some people are afraid because of actions from the government in response to protests. For example, lately, the Russian government was talking about laws against “lies” about the situation. This means that people who say the truth about the war or other things against propaganda would be punished for this.  

Some Russians have just lost their hope that change is possible.  

And could you blame them for this? Let’s be honest, even with the so-called democracy that the Russian Constitution talks about, the Russian people do not have much of a voice and hardly any power. The fact that Russia has had one president for almost ten years with no near end to his presidency tells you a lot about Russian democracy.

Another huge issue keeping the Russian people complacent is propaganda. The Russian news illustrates the Russian military helping people. They also call Ukrainians neo-nazis and never air how the Russian army bombs civilian people. 

The other day I was talking to a Russian friend who would like to remain anonymous. She said, “I don’t feel bad for those people [Ukranians], it’s their President’s fault…Russia protects itself because for Ukraine to join NATO is a serious threat to Russians… I don’t believe that Russians kill innocent people and especially kids.”

On March 9, the Russian military bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol. Social media was immediately flooded with videos and pictures of the tragedy. This illustrates how much less information the Russian people have access to. My anonymous friend would never see images such as these that we in the west have easy access to. 

Most Russian people are getting information from their news, which is not truthful. However, those few who are actually trying to learn more than Russian propaganda can no longer do so as Russia banned Meta, the parent company for social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. TikTok and Twitter are increasingly hard to use too, according to NPR. 

This helps to explain why not that many Russians are taking action about the situation. The Russian people can see only one side of the situation, so it is extremely hard to be objective. 

I am continuously really disappointed with the situation. For as long as I can remember, we always had lots of Ukrainian people in Russia and we called each other brothers and sisters. 

My best friend is Ukrainian and he said, “I am trying to think about something different than the war. At some point, I did expect it [the war] because of Russian interest in Ukraine but I could never think of them bombing innocent people, especially kids. Ukraine just wants to be independent, that is it.”

Given the nature of the political climate, she would like to remain anonymous.

No one knows what is going to happen next. Some people believe that everything will go back to normal. Others, including myself, think that it is the beginning of another version of the Soviet Union.

I love Russia. This is my homeland. I have family and friends there. The fact that they have to go through this situation makes me feel really worried about them and their future. At this point, I am not even sure if I will be able to see them in the near future. 

 I really hope that I am wrong about the creation of another Soviet Union and that very soon people will stand up against the war.