How everyday life in Russia has changed since the country invaded Ukraine : NPR

NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with Anastasia, a woman who lives and works in Moscow, about what life has been like in Russia since the country invaded Ukraine.


What do the Russians know about their government’s war with Ukraine? What do they think? And how are they affected by it? Those simple questions are hard to answer. Russia has limited communication and punishes those who speak candidly. But a woman in Moscow agreed to talk to us about her experience. Her first name is Anastasia. We don’t use her last name because she’s concerned about the possible consequences of pronouncing it. She has a friend who learned the risks firsthand.

ANASTASIA: One of my friends, she just threw something on social media. And she has her image in that media. And then she was found by that image in the subway because there are cameras there. So basically they found her and she was arrested for a few days.

SHAPIRO: And was she eventually released or charged with a crime? What happened?

ANASTASIA: Oh, she was charged with a sum of money, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience at all, and…

SHAPIRO: Of course. How has your daily life changed since the beginning of the war?

ANASTASIA: There are so many feelings every day. You feel angry. You feel frustrated. You can’t work or you can’t concentrate on anything. Especially in the beginning it was just frustration and not knowing what just happened and what is going to happen. And other than that, I mean, my routine hasn’t changed much, but I’m having some issues with my work, with my flat, big things in my life that were fundamental.

SHAPIRO: What did the war mean to your work? I understand that you work for an international company.

ANASTASIA: Yes. And we produce some essential goods, I would say. But at the moment it is all up for discussion as our company recently announced that they want to sell their business in Russia.

SHAPIRO: Wow. What would that mean for you?

ANASTASIA: We still have our salaries until the end of the year. So, I mean, by the end of the year it’s going to change somehow. And probably like the new owner or well, like – I forget the word – like…

SHAPIRO: Like firing people, you mean?

ANASTASIA: Yes. Yes. That – exactly.

SHAPIRO: Would you ever consider leaving Russia?

ANASTASIA: Yes. I mean, I’ve thought about it before. But when it started, my first thought was that I had to leave now. And I was quite concerned that the borders would be closed, and I am still concerned about it.

SHAPIRO: And did you think I had to leave because of the financial consequences of sanctions or the risk of being imprisoned if you criticize the war or just a moral point of view? Like, where did that come from?

ANASTASIA: I mean, it was all this kind of thing, because honestly, the last two days it’s been mostly because of my moral position, I think, because you feel like you’re trapped in Russia. You see all those police officers. You see all these new laws and how they try to tell you how to live, how to breathe, what to say. They have closed all media. They closed Instagram, Facebook. And you just started to feel like you were separated from the whole world.

SHAPIRO: You remind me of an analysis I saw early in the war that said Vladimir Putin is destroying two countries, Ukraine and Russia. Does it feel so extreme?

ANASTASIA: In my opinion, no one can get anything out of war because it’s like – what can you get out of it as a person? It can only hurt you and make you worse. So yes, our ordinary life has changed drastically. And also the prospect of living in Russia, even from an ordinary person’s point of view, is not good, because yes, all these economic consequences. They will be drastic. I’m sure of it.

SHAPIRO: Is there anything you want the Americans to know about being in Russia right now?

ANASTASIA: It’s really essential to understand that a lot of people who don’t support our government also feel locked in from both sides I think because here you’re just constantly scared because if you say or do something you can be harassed or, like, your family could be hurt. So it’s really sad. And the Ukrainian people are – they are somehow many of our friends or relatives. So it’s not like they’re total strangers. And there’s so much hate, and it’s awful.

SHAPIRO: Anastasia, thanks for talking to us about your experience.

ANASTASIA: You’re welcome.

SHAPIRO: She lives and works in Moscow.

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