The Kremlin has shut down what remained of independent media, blocked more than 3,000 websites and instituted prison terms of up to 15 years for anyone who publicly opposes the war. Moscow’s central squares, including Pushkin Square, the traditional site of dissident rallies in Soviet times, have been continuously occupied by riot police since February. St stickers with the letter Z, the emblem of support for the war in Ukraine, are seen almost exclusively on official vehicles. You would be hard-pressed to spot one on regular private cars on the streets of Moscow, says Alexander Nekrassov. In such conditions, it is nothing short of remarkable that thousands of Russians have defied official bans and the threat of prosecution to stage antiwar demonstrations.
Growing opposition to the war among Russians received unexpected official confirmation thanks to a leaked poll conducted by the main government pollster. Publicly released polls show overwhelming support for Putin and for the war, but reliability is about as high as the 99 percent official results for the Communist Party in Soviet "elections" A recent media exposé of the Russian polling industry revealed, among other things, that most people simply refuse to respond to pollsters’ questions for fear of repercussions. But sometimes the Kremlin actually wants to know what Russian society thinks, and this is why it recently commissioned a survey about the war.