– Nobody thought this would happen. Nobody thought Putin would actually invade Ukraine. Sasha says that everything happened very quickly.
Fearing reprisals, the young woman wishes to remain anonymous, and therefore is mentioned only by first name.
The student describes the last time as unrealistic. She thinks it is frightening how the Russian authorities are now tightening their grip.
– I feel that everything in Russia is escalating now, given the new laws and rules that restrict freedom of expression. But we Russians are accustomed to the state restricting our freedom of expression – this is nothing new, she said.
Russia’s fears will be completely isolated
Recently, harsh punishments from the West devastated her mother country. She says that as a result of the penalties, Sasha’s parents lost their jobs.
Russia is becoming more isolated from the outside world. She fears that the situation will get worse in the future.
Life will never be the same again. Now I feel like a completely closed society like North Korea is Russia’s next stop, she says.
Sasha talks about friends who were arrested for participating in a demonstration.
– Police stop people on the subway and go through their cell phones. They search for apps that Russia has banned, such as Facebook and Twitter. She says they are also looking at messages on Telegram, to see if people are talking about the upcoming protests.
Consciously does not read the Russian media
She believes that the fact that the West blocks social media in Russia only contributes to creating an information bubble.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are blocked for Russian citizens, unless you are using a so-called VPN. A VPN is a solution that allows you to trick the system into thinking you are in another country, and thus gain access.
The blockade makes Russia’s propaganda more accessible to people, when access to other channels becomes more difficult than the Russian media. But I do not consciously read Russian newspapers and do not watch Russian television.
She says that many independent Russian media have been banned by the state, and that it is difficult to find reliable information.
I try to follow experts from independent media on other platforms like YouTube.
But she also sometimes gets upset with the international news media.
“I sometimes get angry when I find incorrect news articles about Russia from the international media,” she says.
Expert: You can go two ways
Sasha fears the escalation of the authoritarian regime in Russia.
There may be two ways in the future, says Jakob Godzimirski. He is an expert on Russian affairs and works at the Norwegian Foreign Policy Institute (NUPI).
There are two main lines of Western debate. Godzimirsky says that there are those who believe that the war will lead to the end of the Putin regime, and there are others, who also have a good influence on Russia, who believe that the war will lead to a more authoritarian regime in the country. .
– Personally, I think it will be quite similar to what is happening today, but Russia will generally keep its grip on the population tighter.
West has good cards in hand
Godzimirsky believes that it is not necessary to draw comparisons to a completely closed country like North Korea, but to draw the lines of the old Soviet Union.
North Korea is a very extreme case. Iron is difficult to control in a large country like Russia. People are very good at finding information from the outside. Reprisals will not be as extreme as in North Korea.
As for the new sanctions against Russia, he believes that the West still has good cards on its hand.
– He may go in the direction that the outside world will put a limit on what Russia will be allowed to sell on the international market. It is also possible that Russia will have limited access to modern technology, Godzmirsky says.
I think Putin sings the last verse
Inna Sangadjieva is Senior Adviser to the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Growing up in the Russian Republic of Kalmykia, as a teenager, she witnessed the fall of the Soviet Union.
She says three traits those who support Putin have in common are that they watch Russian television, care about jobs and have good advice.
– Opponents usually do not watch Russian TV. They use the internet and social media, and spend time understanding how things relate. She says many of them are academic and well educated, but there are also many young people.
She believes that Russia now faces three possible scenarios: that the closest Putin intervenes, or that Putin uses nuclear weapons, which she does not think will happen. And the third:
– Russia is getting poorer gradually. There are only a few months left before the economy in Russia collapses, according to economists, and sanctions will continue to appear.
However, Sangadzhieva is convinced that Putin will not have much time left as president.
Can’t afford to leave Russia
Russian Sasha told TV 2 that most of her daily life is normal, except that getting some foods is becoming more and more difficult.
Prices are rising and it is becoming more and more difficult to get goods such as olive oil and coffee. Lots of food storage. She says there is panic.
And for the simple reason that she is Russian, Sasha does not feel very popular during the day.
– I know a lot in Ukraine. I don’t want to say that the situation ruined my relationship with them. Nobody was aggressive towards me, but many Ukrainians were trying to get us Russians to take to the streets and protest.
Many of her acquaintances have already left their native country. Sasha should stay.
– I have friends who have already left Russia for countries such as Georgia, Poland and the Czech Republic. But I can’t go. I can not afford it.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”