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Opinion: Invisible russians

By Marysia Rudska

There are 144 million Russian citizens. You probably met some of them. Nothing peculiar about them: two legs, two arms.

We humans develop our view of the world based on our experiences. We can’t read other people’s minds, so we assume that other people are much like us. This is why a normal person with humane values who’s never dealt with Russians most probably won’t be able to imagine what an average Russian is.

Let’s talk numbers:

That’s why you have never seen an average Russian. And since you most probably don’t speak their language either, most Russians remain invisible to the world.

Who are these ‘invisible’ Russians?

Soldiers. Currently, more than 150 thousand Russian soldiers are fighting in Ukraine. They probably have some plan, some military strategy related to them by their higher-ups, but they also take private initiative. A morbid initiative, like raping hundreds of women and children, torturing and killing thousands of civilians hiding in their homes, waiting in lines to get some food, driving their cars trying to evacuate.

In an intercepted phone call home, a Russian soldier bragged that he and two others raped a 14-year-old girl. Another one described how they slaughtered and ate a shepherd dog just for fun. Burned a stable with 30 living horses inside. Shot zoo animals. 

This is no military strategy. This is just their idea of fun, something to do while staying abroad.

OK, these are soldiers. Maybe they went insane because of the horrors of war they witnessed. But what about their families?

Hundreds of intercepted phone calls show those soldiers’ wives, mothers and friends are all very supportive. Wives make wish lists to loot: T-shirts, blenders, laptops and TVs! Russians plunder lingerie, cookware, and even used children’s toys. Their children will be playing with teddy bears stolen from massacred Ukrainian children. Someone took 36-year-old irradiated forks from Chornobyl. Now Russian soldiers are waiting in lines at the Belarussian postal office shipping their loot home. Russia is a country of murderers, rapists and looters.

One of the most harrowing things I have read recently was an interview with the head of the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia. She told how she pleaded with the Russian mothers to try to save their sons from certain death in the war in Ukraine by whatever means. And do you know what the most popular response was? “What’s the point?” Let it sink in. Mothers don’t see a point in saving their sons’ lives. I’m a mother and I can’t wrap my head around this. It’s a proven fact: human life has no value in the Russian mindset.

What about the rest of the Russians?

As of the end of March 2022, 83 percent of Russians approve of Putin’s actions as President and 81 percent support the war in Ukraine and, by extension, rape, murder and looting… That’s 116 million people. Why do they need this war? I’ll be honest, I have no idea. Neither do they. They gain nothing from it, just hate and economic disaster.

Talking about the economic disaster. Russia is one of the biggest exporters of fossil fuels in the world. Putin is one of the richest men in the world. Meanwhile, 35 million Russians live in houses or apartments without indoor toilets, 47 million do not have hot water, 29 million don’t have any running water inside their residences, and 22 million do not have central heating.

The problem is not poverty as such, but the fact that they don’t see a problem in this situation. In other words, they do not see the need to change anything. No point.

What about the tiny fraction of Russians who are against the war?

Mostly, they do nothing. During the first weeks of Russia’s full-scale invasion up to 14 000 people were detained for their anti-Putin position. However, for a country like Russia it should have been at least 5 mln people taking to the streets. What about the rest? Why do they remain silent? Their stance is: ‘We are small people. There’s nothing we can do’. So most of them stay silent. Again ‘there’s no point‘.

So, what’s the bottom line?

Russians in their overwhelming majority are not victims, but the foundation of Putin’s regime whose inability to self-reflect and act within their own country also makes them the perfect horde to unleash upon neighbors with all this pent up aggression from powerlessness.

Ukraine is fighting for the culture, democracy, and human lives, not just their own, but yours as well. We are paying way too high a price for this. The price we cannot afford.

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