June 2, 2023

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World: Russian youth and pro-Putin parents: “My father fell ill when we faced the truth”

Before Twitter was blocked in Russia, how did young people agree not to trust their parents in the state campaign and, most importantly, not to support the invasion of Ukraine.

The war in Russia, described only as a “special operation”, is considered legitimate by many Russians: at least 68 percent of the population, according to a survey by the state voting agency VZIOM. There is no critical and independent media in the country and the elderly only watch public television.

Many Russian youths seeking to change their name are ready to tell Deutsche Welle about the heated sanctions imposed on them by their parents in 2014, the Western sanctions imposed since the annexation of Crimea.

Vladimir Putin’s speech is broadcast on Russian television


Here are three generations of multiple conflicts:

“My father was not abandoned by his critical sense”

Jelena, 29, lives in Moscow and works as an IT specialist for voluntary organizations.

This is a complete war and I am definitely against it. The events of the first day were shocking and I read the news while crying. I am ashamed, I am sorry, I feel responsible for living in such a sick country with a sick president at the forefront, the consequences of which should be felt not only by us, but by the people of other countries as well. I have never voted for this government, on the contrary: I have always protested against them.

I have been going back to struggles recently and I have already signed on to everything that can only be signed for anti-war. I talk to people and advise them on what they can do to affect the situation. The next day, my friends and I were presented with green ribbons of peace at a subway station in Moscow. Passers-by responded in very different ways: an old man came to us with tears and asked his wife for another ribbon. But we also met a retired woman, who hooked and yelled at us, it was best to make a decision with us, the street sounded from her.

My parents live in Moscow. My father is 59 years old and works in a money transfer company. My mother is 63 years old and retired. He has previously written screenplays for children’s shows. When the war broke out in Ukraine, we immediately started arguing with each other, mainly because my parents believed everything they saw on TV. On the morning of February 26th, I called my brother who was thinking about things like what I was doing. I suggested that the four of us sit down and talk. We were half successful.

At least we made it clear to our father that what was happening was bad. Began to look at the world critically. In fact, he had previously suspected that everything could not be the way he sees it on TV. But the new insight completely shook me. He had seizures and shortness of breath. What he had previously hoped for about Russia and the Russian people collapsed in one fell swoop.

Anti-war demonstration in Russia


Our mom has been doing nothing since she retired, just watching TV. That’s how Putin became a fanatic. Although we try to convince you that it is useful to find out from other sources, you do not want to hear about it. As soon as she is confronted with the fact that blind zeal is based on lies, she becomes as angry and aggressive as the street old woman who calls us fascists. My mother almost applauded when it was announced that Chechen President Khadirov was sending a unit of his cold-blooded assassins to Ukraine. It is a pity to see this.

We will not communicate with each other. One day I will talk to him about the war after meeting all the consequences and dropping cataracts from his eyes. Our dad is standing by our side. He always opposed me going to fights, but only because he was scared. After we had this great conversation, to my great surprise, he said that if I went to protest again, he would come with me.

“My mother only folds campaign slogans”

Anton, a 24-year-old designer, lives near Moscow

I grew up in Morozovsk, Rostov Oblast, about 200 kilometers from the Ukrainian city of Luhansk. I have known Ukrainians since childhood, and we have never had a problem with each other. On the morning of February 24, the day the war broke out, when I was called to the army, I quickly picked up a bag. I wanted to hide in the woods just in time. My mom immediately set up a wall to see where I was going. He said he fully agreed with the war against Ukraine, which should have been occupied in 2014, and that Putin was doing his best. It looks like they’re on fire. My mother is 52 years old and believes in all sorts of weird things like run, tarot cards and many different conspiracy theories. When he issues a statement on politics, he only throws propaganda slogans. But, in my dream, I would not have thought it acceptable to kill people in the neighborhood. I feel it is my job to convince him that murder cannot be justified for any reason.

Arrests during anti-war protests in Moscow


I think any kind of war is unacceptable. I served in the military to the point where I realized something was very vague in our country. Taking pictures of broken equipment was banned, and officers stole gasoline. After I was removed, I started going into struggles. War is the result of this degenerate system, so I try to convince my mom that what is happening in Russia is not normal. On February 25, the second day of the war, we were able to talk about this issue without much fuss or shouting. I structured what I had to say logically, prepared for arguments, and told him that reading from Orwell would not hurt. The next day we also talked casually. Yet I think I can not convince him, there is so much confusion in his head. I will give it a try. What we have so far acknowledged is that we both applaud Boris Nimtsov, a former critic of Putin and an opposition Russian politician, who collected evidence of the crimes of the Russian military until he was assassinated in a massacre in eastern Ukraine in 2015.

“What else do they believe is fair?”

Alena, a 26-year-old economist from St. Petersburg

My mom is 47 years old and works in the hospital secretariat. My father is 56 years old and an employee of the Russian Railways. They both live in Perm and have already supported the Russian government in 2014. They have diligently cracked the passwords they heard on TV.

“Don’t fight!” Inscription on the most famous main road in St. Petersburg, Nevsky Prospekt.


But their vision has changed since then. It started after the import ban in 2014, when we got used to buying cheese all at once on a daily basis. On the one hand, we could not buy it, on the other hand, because it already tasted bad. I remember this period very well, I went to the eleventh. My father’s salary was reduced on the railways, and I needed money for the Crimean War. Then, when I was already studying economics at university, it was not so difficult for me to explain to them why we live so badly: because the government occupying the Crimea spent our money. Is it worth it? My most pressing argument is, “How long have you been working so hard for me and my sister? Nevertheless, now we have to live with a very low standard of living because this government, which we did not choose, wants to acquire land owned by another country at any cost. ”

I agree that different generations may have different opinions on certain matters. But it’s not about what’s happening now. I’m glad my parents saw the war as me because I could not understand how to think differently about it and be a better human being in the meantime. What else keeps in my mind what can justify those who can justify this bloodshed? One cannot love such parents for oneself. But it is also true that we as young people can help them a lot. We can guide them in the flood of information.

By Kira Sokolova. Translated by Gabriella Valaxke.

In the framework of collaboration between Deutsche Welle (DW) and HVG, DW on-site reports, reports or analyzes are now published weekly on hvg.hu. DW is a German public service news channel that provides content in 32 languages ​​worldwide. Its journalists are in most countries in Europe and around the world. Each week, hvg.hu selects the most interesting articles from the entire reporter network.

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