Life in Today’s Russia
B войну играют политики а страдает простой народ.
Politicians play war and ordinary people suffer.
- Russian Proverb
This quote is a reality of lives being lived by so called ‘ordinary people’ all over Eastern Europe. On Thursday, February 24, 2022 The Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, resulting in devastating war conditions for countries across the former Soviet Union. Russian citizen Inna, whose last name will be withheld due to privacy requests, is one of the many ‘ordinary people’ living in these war conditions today.
Inna currently resides in Vladimir, Russia which is a short four hours from the capital Moscow. Along with being a single mother, she is also a local elementary school teacher. Her day to day consists of very ordinary tasks: taking her son to school, feeding her pets, going to work, cleaning the house and having an occasional guest over. While daily life tasks in Russia remain relatively similar to pre-war times, economic and social conditions have changed in extremely impactful ways. Inna discussed some of the limitations she has faced financially due to the war and explained that inflation of goods without any increase of labor wages was a prominent issue affecting the entire country; “Bread used to be one dollar, and now it is three and my state salary has stayed the same. Because of this, many people are struggling in Russia right now,” Inna explained. While she is amongst those fortunate enough to be able to afford an increase in prices, she has had to cut down on luxury items and has only been able to afford basics.
Along with inflation of goods, traveling has been made almost impossible for Russian citizens as airlines don’t fly and prices have risen into the mid thousands drastically; “I miss my family, but I simply can’t do anything about it. The only way to fly is through Turkey, and it is very expensive and difficult. I just cannot fly in these conditions, ” Inna said. Inna has friends and family around the world that, despite having a US green card, she can no longer visit. This leaves her with the question: when will she see her distant friends and family again?
Fear and uncertainty have become constants in the lives of Russian citizens as the social reputation of the country and its people dwindles. With the rise of russophobia throughout the world, Inna explained that it is necessary for both her and her son to maintain themselves in a time when many people look down on them for the actions taken by their country’s politicians. As fear of the outside world settles into Russian households, the greatest fear of any parent to a son in Russia right now, remains the fear of government draft; “While I don’t think the war will last very long,” Inna mentioned, “I am always worried that they [the Russian government] are going to take my son from me.” Inna’s son is, fortunately, at an age considered too young to fight. However, it is a requirement for every man 18 and older to serve in the Russian military. As time goes on in this war, young men across the country, including Inna’s son, continue to get closer and closer to that daunting age.
As Inna moves through her day to day life, her feelings of fear, uncertainty, worry and frustration are not to be heard. As mentioned above, Inna is a local elementary school teacher which is a job directly associated with the government. When asked about how the Russian education system is informing its children on current events, Inna explained that it is not talked about past the fact that war is inherently bad; “We are not free here. I cannot say anything more or I will get fired from my job,” Inna said.
As the war between The Russian Federation and Ukraine continues, the lives of innocent and ‘ordinary’ people also continue to be affected in severe ways. Everyday life in war times of the year 2022 may seem, on the outside, to be quite typical compared to what many expect. However, they are just as impactful and fearful as we have seen through Inna’s story.