Undoubtedly, the civil war that began over a hundred years ago continues. Sometimes it faded, sometimes it burst to the surface. Today, the civil war in Russia is very actively stimulated by Putin. Putin has long mastered the language of civil war. If we recall his famous words about the return of the Soviet anthem in 2000, when asked why this was necessary, he said: The people support me. Maybe we are wrong with the people? He has been asking this rhetorical question for twenty-two years. And when he said about Eduard Limonov, who was not very beloved by me, “all sorts of people walk around here, shaking their beards” during the protests in Moscow in 2011-2012, and when he called the notorious Uralvagonzavod to his rally in 2012. It was all a reproduction of images of the Civil War that are very close and understandable to this day. The civil war is stimulated by the Russian political regime and is one of the conditions for its survival over the past 20 years. From the regime standpoint, this is very, very useful.
Besides, the regime has been stimulating emigration all these years. Putin has learned the lessons of Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev and Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov: store shelves should be full, and all those who are dissatisfied should leave instead of the other way around. Because from his point of view, this is one of the reasons that destroyed the Soviet Union. Now in Russia, there will be few of those who “shake their beards” because they all left, but believe me, they will still find someone to set against since imitation of the enemy is a very effective tool. They set them on students, they will set them on small businesses. When small businesses run out, they will set them on some teachers. It’s not a problem to find a group on which to set the masses on. And I think that this doesn’t paint a very good picture for us.
Our life experience and common sense give us a very good opportunity to conclude that those who come out with posters “No to war”, play the Ukrainian anthem on the piano, and risk real terms, in a good scenario, represent hundreds of thousands. There may be several million people, but this is a very optimistic estimate.
But those who packed the looted washing machines represent, unfortunately, tens of millions who received the full dose of Putin’s propaganda during these twenty years. And most importantly, this propaganda was not even about America, not about Masons, and not about the CIA. The message of this propaganda was very simple: You are not to blame for anything and nothing depends on you. You are offended, but we will resolve this issue. So they started to solve it.
And against this background, we can say that the civil war, which began more than a hundred years ago, has received a new development today, and I am not sure that this is the end. The Ukrainian boomerang (all crimes committed on Ukrainian soil) will arrive in Russia. If the disintegration of the political regime begins, then this civil war will take on a new character and these people with washing machines will simply come to a neighbor and say: You have a Ford Focus, but I don’t. Give me the keys now. I am not saying that this will be the case, but we must keep this in mind, and understand that a civil war can become much more bloody and difficult.
What should we do? Putin will not be able to close all channels of communication with the outside world in Russia. Therefore, it seems to me that it is necessary to speak with people as accessible as possible, in a very simple language, to speak with people through YouTube, through those channels through which it is possible. In addition, you need to take a moral stand. Unfortunately, some of the most diverse Russian oppositionists believe that it is necessary to somehow evade direct criticism of the war. For example, to talk more about the victims among Russian soldiers than about the victims among Ukrainians, peaceful and unfortunate, who suffer not because of the lack of a UnionPay card.
We need to speak tough, we need to take a firm moral stand as supporters of the victims of this aggression. Now it may seem that this is politically disadvantageous, but there is no normal politics in Russia. We’re not discussing the Florida gubernatorial election with you. We are discussing a completely different situation. Moreover, if this regime creeps, people will still have to learn again what democracy is and what its value is because people have been told for twenty years that it is not valuable and that the most valuable thing is to sit on the stove, watch TV and think that Putin will decide everything. Therefore, it seems to me that the conversation should be very direct and sometimes very painful, very difficult, and long.
We know that the Lithuanians tried to randomly call Russian phone numbers and talk to people in the first week of the war. This is not an easy task, but it is not for Lithuanians to do. This should be done by the Russian people. In the same way, we need to help the Ukrainians. It’s a long road, but in my opinion, this is one of the few chances to bring the voice of reason to this civil war.
We must do the only possible work in this situation. This is work to support the Ukrainian people. And this work of telling the bitter truth to those who, for some reason found themselves in a state of intoxication. The comfort zone, the position of the victim is very easy, and, unfortunately, it is these people who can turn out to be the biggest prey of the forces of evil in this never-ending civil war that must be stopped and whose development on a new round must be prevented.
Speech at the II Anti-war conference in Vilnius, May 20, 2022