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Propaganda in Russia works?

There is a Chinese proverb that says; if you want to have a true description of the ocean, you cannot only ask the fishes. I grew up in the Soviet Union and I was a teenager during the Perestroika years.

It was a scarcity-society where we had to stand in endless lines to get the most basic food. It was actually a primitive barter economy (in the 20th century!) where we had to exchange food, services and goods with each other, and where we had to grow our own vegetables on small patches of gardens. It was an unfair privilege society where only the very few had access to everything in a separate privilege economy-system. If you objected to the prevailing situation you would be labeled “enemy of the people” (!) and sent away to camps or mental institutions. People knew what was going on, but we didn’t want to know, because it was too difficult and too dangerous to protest.
We were told through monopolly-media that it was even worse in the capitalist countries and that they wanted to hurt us. Like most other people I believed this, and I was very surprised when I finally could visit the west and see with my own eyes that even the working class was much, much better off, than even “the middle class" in my own country.

Now, when I look at the development in my own country – from outside, where I have a different and more “free” perspective – I am saddened by what I observe. There is no progress for the better and in many aspects the country is reversing back to what resemble Soviet times. The economy is deteriorating, the privileged few are robbing the country, the middle class is eradicated, health is deteriorating, average living age is falling, media is under state control and even internet is being “gagged” by the state, foreign countries are described as hostile, Russians accuse each other of taking side “with the enemy” (!), etc. OMG.

When I point to these facts, my friends and my network in Russia is being very upset. With me! Not with the politicians or the prevailing situation. No, with me. “How dare you”. “Why do you hate Russia”. “It is even worse in England, Scandinavia, France….”. “There was never any lack of food in the Soviet Union”. “There are more alcoholisms in Europe”. “You are taking side with our enemies”….

Why these reactions, I wonder. They are factually wrong.

Why do we Russians always feel that we have to defend our country, no matter what? The problem with this is that nothing will EVER change to the better if we don’t start with addressing and criticising what is wrong, unfair, problematic.

Is it because people really don’t see the problems? I doubt it. It is because they are afraid to express their support to my simple observations because they are afraid that someone is controlling their FB profile? Maybe. Is it because this is a kind of a “self-comfort” - “it could have been worse, let’s be happy for what we have”? Likely. Is it because we Russians always confuse motherland, country, feelings, pride into it, if someone express critique of our politicians? Yes, no doubt.

Is it because the propaganda once again is making it’s brain-washing effect? I think so.

Anna Sandermoen

Sandermoen Publishing,

Zug, Switzerland


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