[This message was written by a fan in Moscow 48 hours ago. It is unsigned but was relayed by a trustworthy source who confirms the writer is happy for it to be published by File 770. It’s a fan’s perspective, a voice we may not hear much.]
Note from a Fan in Moscow.
The first few days after the invasion were spent in shock and fear. Like the veil of smokescreen had suddenly fallen. There was very little belief it was going to escalate – now it seems the same way of thinking got us through Crimea, through Navalny and slow but steady removal of our rights and freedoms, from voting to even mentioning lgbtq+ or feminism anywhere. We lived in hope, worked hard like a racing horse with blinders, achieved – it seemed like – good results in establishing cultural and economic links after the Soviet Union… And it all falls to rubble.
Now it is time to see clearly. And with this disillusionment comes heartbreak, disorientation, personal premature middle age crisis for the whole country. We are divided – those who might still believe whatever they feed people on the news on national TV and papers – and those who are starting to see the reality. Sanctions are working, soon the whole country will plunge into the 90s. I have queued with many others to get some cash out, in complete disbelief that banks are going to protect our funds. As usual, I had some books ordered, and of course I won’t reimburse them, however dreadful my future income related to international links might be – in calm understanding that next month each one might cost my monthly salary or more.
Fellow fans are eerily silent. Some tried to post some jokes, but everything is political now. They were asked to stop, so our chats are dead. Anything can become a ‘state treason’. How founded are these fears? How founded are they for those who are spending 15 days in prison for anti-war protests? How real is the fear I feel? It’s just a feeling that pierces your heart. Compared to suffering and physical harm that this war is bringing to so many people, it all seems too ‘intellectual’, too ‘superficial’ – yet the fear does not subside. Trying to talk to friends now is only feeding into this fear: are men of 18-60 years going to be drafted? Is he going to use the nuclear weapons? Who is going to come after?
All my friends are appalled, some are trying to live their lives, a bit in inertia, some are packing their stuff – if there was ever a thought or a possibility to leave, they feel now is the chance, and this chance might not be there for long. The Iron Curtain has been lifted merely decades ago.
I have asked myself again and again in the past few days – how did this happen? How did we allow this to happen? And a cold slimy feeling in the chest is telling me to look around: not many more laws were needed with 3 types of police on the streets of cities detaining protesters. It’s all been here already installed in the system. We were just blind. And it feels like we were left alone. Granted, all states are on their own facing internal matters but aren’t the ‘world leaders’ supposed to prevent things like these? What were their thoughts when the president put Medvedev briefly on his post and then took the title again? That it is going to be fine? It will work out? Shame and blame are easy to point to this or that group of people or one person, but in reality it disseminates and hurts everyone.
This is the end of the country that had so many brilliant people trying their best to elevate it, promote freedom of thought and democracy (it has been an awkward word here for many years). Some have emigrated with disillusionment coming earlier, some are going to go through it now. Some, which is a scary thought, have helped build this regime. I am walking the streets now trying to really look at people’s faces: who are they? And they look back, probably with same thoughts. Inside, there are layers upon layers that now get detached – what am I? A Russian? A peacemaker? A teacher? A liar feeding illusions? Did I live to support this in silence? In between the news and residual work, I read Andrey Sakharov, I read Alexander Pushkin, and those who defied the regime, which seems to have never changed. I read Alan Moore and Carl Sagan. There is little solace.
I hope for the war to end, for suffering to stop now. Is there any hope for this country afterwards? I plead to my fellow fans and people everywhere: please don’t leave us on our own, fight with us for freedoms – it is a global fight, and this is a large part of the world that should be included in humanity’s better future with space travel and technologies, wonderfully diverse comics, and films, and works of art.