Past Is Prologue
The lack of truthful information is the main obstacle for anyone who wants to get an objective and realistic picture of what is happening in modern Russia. If you have a friend in that country, it is usually very difficult to discuss current political events and especially the conflict in Ukraine. Almost since the beginning of the “special military operation,” there have been military censorship and harsh penalties for anti-war statements. Of course, it is possible to reach out to people of different views through social media, messengers, Telegram channels, and mutual acquaintances. Finally, you can follow the activity of emigrant politicians and participants in public protests (there were very few, only in the fall of 2022 in some countries people again held rallies against the war in front of Russian embassies).
This article will focus on the author’s personal experience and personal observations of public sentiment in Moscow in June-September 2022. The article will also be generously illustrated with my personal photographs.
It was a very strange summer. One of the warmest and sunniest summers of the last 20 years of Putin’s Russia. Summer, which evoked associations with the famous 1988 American buddy cop action film Red Heat. The final battle between good and evil. Between democracy and the power of crime and money. And in a sense, this film was a warning and a prophecy.
During all these summer months, I had the constant feeling that I was living inside an enormous anti-utopia. The closest thing I could observe was reminiscent of scenes from the novel We by Evgeny Zamyatin, a book written exactly 100 years ago and first published in the United States in 1924. Beautiful, sun-drenched streets and squares. Working fountains. Emerald green trees, blooming lilacs, gorgeous tulips. Children’s laughter. Parents with children walking in the parks. Lots of relaxed holidaymakers in beautiful fancy clothes. It really looked like a victory of dystopia, like the end of history. The only thing that made me doubt it was the war, the echoes of which were coming closer and closer to that serene life. It was a feast during the plague.