“To be honest, I think it’s absurd.”

A quote from September 2021:

Only two major pollsters, FOM and VTsIOM, are allowed to publish their findings in Russia. Naturally, both are Kremlin-friendly.

Levada Center was declared a “foreign agent” in 2016 and banned from reporting its polls during electoral campaigns. Always on the brink of closure or persecution, Levada – I suspect – prefers to err in the Kremlin’s favor.

With all respect due to Levada for their past work, my belief in their tendency to err in the Kremlin’s favor has only strengthened. That is why reports that build on Levada’s findings – like this unsigned dispatch by Bloomberg News – make me doubt their epistemological foundations. In other words, their facts and assumptions.

This particular one is really odd. All the evidence – admittedly indirect – I’m familiar with suggests that unequivocal support for the invasion is limited to a minority of Russians, whereas most would prefer peace. The article includes a picture of Putin “at a patriotic concert dedicated to the upcoming Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow, on Feb. 22” at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow.

But it fails to mention that the stadium was half-empty despite the authorities’ efforts to fill it to the brim. Also, when Putin finished his speech, there was no ear-shattering triple “hurray” as scripted and expected. The Sun, for all its tabloid nastiness, found a gem:

A state employee said: “To be honest, I think it’s absurd.

“We have to go and there’s nothing we can do with it.[“]

This piece in the WSJ is surprisingly good – except that it includes quotes from a Kremlin propagandist who really doesn’t deserve to be quoted by a newspaper of record. But it also has some insightful, if diverging, opinions, like this:

“Repression is the real reason why people are staying loyal. They are all afraid,” said Mr. Gallyamov.

And this:

Mr. Nixey said he believes that Russians “cannot quite bring themselves to understand or face the consequences of what their own country is doing. It’s different to rallying around the flag or being brainwashed. They have sort of locked their consciences away and tried to get on with life without really giving much thought to what their country is perpetrating.”

Which makes you wonder what, if anything, can force those ostrich-imitating Russians to “bring themselves to understand” and “face the consequences” of their country’s actions.

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