The Evolving Concerns of Russians after the Invasion of Ukraine
Throughout Putin’s war on Ukraine, the attitudes of the Russian public toward the regime and the conflict have been the subject of much scrutiny. This memo addresses this question by analyzing data released by the Presidential Administration that summarizes monthly correspondence received from the public from January 2021 through December 2022. While the identity of these correspondents is not known, their decision to send non-anonymous appeals to the President suggests that they support or tolerate the Putin regime. The data demonstrates that after an initial period of uncertainty about the war’s economic impact, these concerns abated until the announcement of mobilization in September. Since then, the appeals depict a Russian public that is increasingly concerned about conditions of military service and the war’s impact on service members and their families. At the same time, the data indicate that the Kremlin’s strategy to shift the blame for mobilization from the President to regional authorities appears successful.
Sasha de Vogel is a Raphael Morrison Dorman Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University. She was a post-doctoral fellow at New York University’s Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia from 2021-2022. She received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Michigan, and she holds an MA in Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies from Columbia University. Her research examines authoritarian sustainability, institutional politics and collective action in Russia and the post-Soviet region and seeks to understand how authoritarian citizens utilize alternatives to democratic consultation. Her work has appeared in Post-Soviet Affairs, and she has recently provided commentary to Meduza, The Guardian, and the BBC among others.