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LMC 2023

What Man Believes Is: Russian Society

At the start of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia stepped up pressure on civil society structures, targeting ‘foreign agents’ including NGOs, civil activists, journalists, artists, and scientists. Anti-war statements were criminalised and propaganda against everything related to the western world has steadily increased. Despite—or because of—these attacks on civil society, public support for the Russian army’s military operations in Ukraine remains at a very high level, and the authorities sustain high approval ratings.


Igor Gretskiy

Research Fellow at the International Centre for Defence and Security

Andrei Kolesnikov

Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Alexey Levinson
Alexey Levinson

Head of the Socio-Cultural Research Department at Levada Center


Inna Berezkina

Programme Coordinator at the School of Civic Education

What can be said about the current state of Russian society? Do these observations offer any glimpse into Russia’s future? Can Russian society awaken from its lethargic sleep and challenge its leadership, or is Russia doomed to slide further towards totalitarianism?

“What man believes is.” (“во что человек верит, то и есть”, commonly but erroneously quoted as “Man is what he believes.”)

Note-book of Anton Chekhov, Anton Chekhov (c. 1890)