In Moscow there is no artillery fire exploding. There are no foreign forces surrounding the city. What Muscovites are experiencing now is nothing compared to the horrors in Ukraine.
At first glance, life here looks normal. As usual, Moscow’s Garden Ring Road is jammed with traffic. Crowds pour out of the subway station in front of me.
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But in reality, there is little here that could be described as normal. Normality ended on February 24, when Vladimir Putin he ordered the incursion of his troops into the Ukraine for his “Special Military Operation”.
I experienced communist Russia. I lived during post-Soviet Russia. Now, the largest country in the world has undergone another metamorphosis.
Let me take you on a tour of “Special Military Operation Russia.”
I get in the car to drive to the supermarket. Out of habit, I turn on the radio. It is tuned to 91.2 FM, which was the headquarters of Radio Echo of Moscow. Echo was my favorite Russian radio station, a reliable source of news and information.
But in the last few weeks, all independent news stations in Russia have been blocked or closed. On 91.2 FM, the state-owned Radio Sputnik, which supports the Russian offensive in Ukraine, is now broadcast.
Driving along the ring road, I pass a theater that has a huge letter Z on its facade, the symbol of Russia’s military operation. There is another Z outside the Russian Railways head office. I pass a truck that has a Z on one side. In recent weeks, Z’s have been painted on the doors of Kremlin critics.
In the mall, business is far from thriving. Many of the international brand stores are closed. Since Russian forces attacked Ukraine, hundreds of foreign companies have suspended operations in Russia.
The doctor’s salary is not enough
The shelves in supermarkets are full. Last month’s sugar shortage in Russia, the result of uncontrolled panic buying, appears to have been resolved. But the product range looks more limited than before. Y in the last two months, prices have skyrocketed.
Outside the mall I talk to Nadezhda, a doctor.
“Prices are so high, it’s impossible for me to survive on my salary now,” Nadezhda tells me.
“But the hardest thing of all is living in a society that doesn’t want to know the truth of what’s going on in Ukraine. People are too concerned with how to pay their mortgages, how to pay their debts. They’re not interested in knowing what’s going on. around him. But I think what is happening in Ukraine is terrible. I’m ashamed to be Russian“.
I go to the engineering institute in Moscow where 30 years ago I used to teach English.
Back then, in the early 1990s, after the fall of communism, my students were confident that Russia and the West could forge lasting friendship and collaboration and that the future would be one of peace and prosperity.
It could not be achieved.
“We will overcome all our difficulties. After sunset always comes sunrise,” says Denis, a student, in front of the institute.
“But I support our troops. They are our soldiers. I am obligated to support my country no matter what.”
My final destination is the gigantic war museum that celebrates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, a glorious triumph achieved at enormous human cost. More than 27 million Soviet citizens died in what is known here as the Great Patriotic War.
What I find disturbing is how “Special Military Operation” has found a space in this museum, where it is being honored.
On the museum’s website, the spelling of the word “museum” has been changed to appear with the letter Z. Z mugs and pins that state “My President Putin”.
And the museum is currently presenting an exhibition on the Nazis in Ukraine. that helps cementing the Kremlin’s false claim that the Russian military is liberating Ukraine from Nazism.
This is the “Special Military Operation Russia”, a parallel universe, orwellian [como la novela distópica 1984 de George Orwell]where invasion is liberation, aggression is self-defense, and where critics are traitors.
It gives me the feeling that the Russia that I have known in these last 30 years has disappeared.