REPORTAGE. War in Ukraine: In Moscow, little has changed in appearance

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While in Ukraine, the Russian troops lost ground, in Moscow, the citizens did not seem to suffer the consequences of the war waged in their country.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine. Sanctions continue to rain in Russia, condemned in Europe: departure of companies, embargo on raw materials, suspension of the Swift banking system, restrictions on the issuance of visas…

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Yet in Russia, apart from the atmosphere, little has changed. Since September, the rains wet the streets of Moscow and the cold bites the passers-by. Some colorful umbrellas enliven the gray picture of the capital, but the hearts of Muscovites are very sad. “It’s depression”, breathed Alexandra, smoking under a shelter. “The atmosphere has been very heavy since February. Many of my friends who work for foreign brands have lost their jobs.”

Nearly 300 Western brands closed their doors in Russia in March, to show their condemnation of Putin’s “special military operation”. Some were taken under new names, Mc Donald became “Vkusno i Tochka”. Some left behind empty display cases, like ghosts of a bygone era, before the war.

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“We’ll find a way to dress”

But in Moscow, few are concerned about these departures. Young people, accustomed to Western signs and technology, feel these punishments the most. “Since the closing of Nike, we don’t know where to wear! The prices have more than doubled, it is very difficult to buy quality now”, complained a group of students, at the exit of KFC. “Even for metro tickets, the price increase is felt…”

However, most adults, who do not like these brands very much, do not notice many changes. “We will find a way to dress and eat. In addition, it allows national brands to develop, which I fully support”, explained Maxime, music teacher, looking for suits in a last H&M. tomorrow. “Everything is fine in Moscow for me!” Similarly, the visa ban has little effect on most Russians, who can no longer afford such trips to Europe.

Visually, little has changed, but the climate is heavy. “We are at war. And war is always terrible and senseless”, judged this thirty-year-old. “But I support our government, because anyway, I don’t understand anything about politics. I’m a musician, it’s too complicated for me.” His point of view is shared by most Muscovites.

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Most rejected the war, but few opposed it

In fact, most did not approve of the war, but few opposed it, out of fear or defeat. “In St. Petersburg, I took part in the demonstrations, but here, in the capital, the repression is very strong. I don’t want to be imprisoned or expelled from the university. My studies are very valuable to me”, said Ksenia, student of the faculty of chemistry. Others fear that the situation will worsen if the power goes out.

The elderly were the majority who supported the war, especially those who lived in the Russian provinces. “We in Crimea fully support Putin, he helped us in 2014 to join Russia, we want the same thing in Donbass”, assures Aksanna, forty-year-old mother of three children, who is on vacation in Moscow.

For the elders, it doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong. “When my motherland is at war, I support my motherland, period,” proudly declared Natacha, a 60-year-old retiree outside Moscow at her dacha, who often enjoys television. “I was able to convince my whole village to support our president. Thanks to him, the land of Russia is preserved from the war of the future.” An uncertain future for millions of Muscovites, but everyone hopes for the best.

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