Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Effect Of Anti-Russian Propaganda On Russian Minds

theatlantic  |   After President Vladimir Putin announced this week that Russia was conscripting some 300,000 reservists and military veterans to reinforce its war effort in Ukraine, international flights out of Russian cities quickly sold out. This latest wave of Russia’s exodus included Anton Shalaev, a 38-year-old senior manager at an IT company, and 15 colleagues.

On less than a day’s notice, these men of military age all left their relatively comfortable lives in downtown Moscow to fly to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Because of Putin’s war, Shalaev tossed a book, an iPad, and a laptop in a backpack and got out of Dodge.

Shalaev and his co-workers are true tech geeks, producers of high-value computer games. They represent their country’s brightest and best, members of a tech elite that was the economic foundation of Russia’s new middle class. In a last selfie from Moscow, Shalaev brandished a coffee mug that bore the slogan Not today, Satan.

Anna Nemtsova: Why didn’t you want to be drafted to fight in Ukraine?

Anton Shalaev: On the day Putin declared the war, I knew I would never fight on behalf of this new Nazi Reich. They are my personal enemies: mercenaries who steal my country from me, occupy foreign territories, and kill innocent people. Putin’s army commanders have had plenty of time to turn down their contracts; instead, they are recruiting more cannon fodder now.

So I chose to help Ukrainians suffering from this horror—pay for shelters in Kyiv with cryptocurrency and write antiwar posts on social media. To encourage Russians at home, I said: “Guys, look, I am writing this from Moscow.”

Nemtsova: What do you think of the Kremlin’s decision making?

Shalaev: A few old men and an army of zombies are leading us to hell. I say that because people around me in Russia behaved as if they had been bitten by a zombie, dragging my entire country into a dreadful war. All I saw was Russian loser husbands beating their wives, while the entire rotting house of the state system has turned my people into an army of the dead.

They are my enemies.

Nemtsova: What do you know of the situation in Ukraine?

Shalaev: I constantly follow the war news in Ukraine—and I seek out the best, most objective analysts. My main sources on the atrocities are Ukrainian refugees from cities bombed by Russian forces.

I realize that I would rather go to prison than go to fight against the Ukrainian army. I openly embrace my antiwar position. I urge my social-media followers to donate to Ukrainians. This entire war is a crime against humanity.




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