ANDREY KUZICHKIN Putin has zombified the Russian people

Andrey Kuzichkin
, Russian expert
Having renounced religious freedom, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia controls one of the Kremlin's most important networks of domestic mind control and foreign hybrid operations.
Having renounced religious freedom, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia controls one of the Kremlin's most important networks of domestic mind control and foreign hybrid operations. Photo: Gavriil Grigorov / POOL/AFP

War is scary because it brings with itself death. It's terrible when people die. But often war destroys souls, and that is even worse. It's scarier because the dead sink into oblivion. But people with crippled consciousness live on and pose a danger to others and themselves. This is what happened in Hitler's Germany. The same thing happened in Putin's Russia: by infecting the people with the virus of totalitarianism, Putin managed to turn Russians into a zombie nation, writes Russian expert Andrey Kuzichkin.

Of course, the same viruses that carry the strains of misanthropy, cultural hostility and chauvinism are also present in a dormant state in social patterns in peacetime. But disasters, social upheavals and military conflicts unleash them. Russia is no exception here.

An environment favorable for viruses has developed gradually in Russian society. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, powerful processes of national self-identification began in Russia on the platform of the primacy of freedom, private property and civil rights. However, an economic crisis, falling living standards, rampant crime, and theft by the Yeltsin elite led to Russian citizens becoming disenchanted with reforms and democracy. Demand for a «hard hand» emerged. This is what Putin began to offer by starting a war with oligarchs, terrorists and political opposition as well as announcing «Russia's special path».

At the same time, the Russian media, which had come under the control of the Kremlin, began to poison Russians with the toxins of the hatred of the liberal values of the West. And in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea, Russian society received an injection with a powerful dose of imperialist glory. The poison of chauvinism turned off self-preservation instincts and awakened the desire for new victories. War with Ukraine became inevitable. And when Putin invaded Ukraine eight years later, Russian society, poisoned by television propaganda, fell into the state of the living dead, controlled by the will of their creator.

The full support of Russian citizens for the «special military operation» against Ukraine and the willingness to die for Putin's palaces and Rotenbergs’ yachts can be assessed as zombie behavior. But this is not enough for the Putin regime. He wants to control the personal lives of Russian citizens. Therefore, the regime pays a lot of attention to the internal organization of Russian life. The Kremlin encourages initiatives and passes laws that squeeze the possibility of freedom and alternatives out of every pore of Russian society and ultimately paralyze the will of Russians.

Without additional human resources, Putin's regime is doomed to economic stagnation and military defeat.

Mobilizing society to fight against Ukraine is important for the Kremlin. But now the main point of Russian domestic politics is the struggle to restore the institution of marriage according to Old Russian traditions. The reason for this is the decrease in the population of Russia. Without additional human resources, Putin's regime is doomed to economic stagnation and military defeat. A return to the patriarchal past has been heralded as a strategy for moving into the future. In essence, this is a diagnosis of the schizoid disorder of the Russian state. However, many civic activists are enthusiastically participating in this game. There are various motivations: to be like everyone else, to stand out from the crowd, to suck up to the bosses, to take advantage of the opportunity and raise one’s personal delusions to the level of national politics.

I remember a scandal that happened 10 years ago in Tomsk, when the head of the missionary department of the Orthodox Church, Maksim Stepanenko, proposed to start calling single mothers whores. According to the «missionary», children born out of wedlock were proof of a woman's lax lifestyle. Public outrage erupted in Tomsk and Maksim Stepanenko was transferred to a lower position. But he is currently continuing to serve in the congregation. At the time, a member of the Tomsk City Duma also said that only French prostitutes paint their lips with lipstick and real Russian women should use natural dyes, such as beet. The Duma member was ridiculed in the press and on social media. But now these people are shaping the ideology of family relations in Russia. And their initiatives are by no means innocent.

So, a fight surrounding the domestic violence law has started in the Russian State Duma (which the head of the Investigative Committee of Russia, Bastrykin, recently called the «state dura» or state fool). Seven years ago, first-time domestic violence cases were decriminalized in Russia. This means that it is possible to beat a woman or a man half to death and get away with a fine if it is the first time that the beating happened. Now the members of the New People faction want to tighten some of the provisions of the law, because during its period of validity there have been many cases where partners have died as a result of domestic violence. This is opposed by members of the United Russia party, who call the original law anti-Western and call for anyone who speaks out in support of its changing to be classified as foreign agents and Navalny supporters. The Ministry of Justice of Russia, in turn, is preparing a law prohibiting the childfree ideology, which considers the popularization of childfree life as extremism.

Those advocating an increase in the population say Russian women should give birth as often as possible, preferably to more boys, to replenish the ranks of the Russian army. That is why members of parliament from Russian regions are proposing to ban abortion and contraceptives or to sell condoms with holes. A proposal has been made to introduce a ban on abortions for women aged 16 to 60. According to the initiators of the ban, if a pensioner could get pregnant, she must also give birth. However, the philosopher Aleksandr Dugin proposes to resettle the cities and send people back to the villages, where a man and a woman make love more often out of boredom and have children every year. A bearded man, a round woman and a flock of children, like organ whistles in a row. This is Dugin's ideal, which fully coincides with the ideal of Hitler's German family. True, in the vision of the leading Nazi of Germany, the man did not have a beard.

Those advocating an increase in the population say Russian women should give birth as often as possible, preferably to more boys, to replenish the ranks of the Russian army.

The Russian Ministry of Finance has joined the fight for a strong family by preparing a proposal to raise the state fee for filing divorce documents from 650 rubles to 5,000 rubles (from 6 euros to 50 euros). The restoration of the childlessness tax, abolished in 1992, is also being considered. Among the exotic proposals made to strengthen the Russian family is the ban on home delivery of food, so that the wife prepares lunches and dinners herself and, using her cooking skills, draws her husband to her with strong ties. And, of course, going to church on Sundays is to become mandatory, because the church is the main citadel of morality and culture. One of the clergy belonging to the close circle of the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church has already said: «Orthodox culture means more than Russian culture». The expression «Children, kitchen, church» is becoming the leading ideology of Russia's population policy. Concern has also been expressed in the Russian State Duma about women's beauty standards and calls have been made for the regulation of female lip augmentation. The explanatory memorandum of one of the bills says: «It is necessary to establish a clear rule on what the volume of the lips must be, what size, what the permitted percentage of enlargement is, and girls with non-standard lips must be sent to compulsory treatment.»

It is understandable that the fight to increase the population is accompanied by Putin's promise to support families with children materially. And, of course, Russian propaganda is painting horrifying pictures of the deterioration of family and marital relations in Europe to accompany this. Therefore, the LGBT community, which is pulling down the demographic indicators, has been declared as the main enemy of the Russian family. Gender reassignment has essentially been equated with extremism. There are already known cases where transgender people in Russia have fallen victim to public persecution and have been forced to change gender again. And the Russian Chekists have a new entertainment: they blackmail gays and send them to the war in Ukraine to «re-grow» so that they either die there or become «real men». And there are no public protests of any kind, only silent grumbling and discontent. Having received unlimited power from the people, Putin broke the backbone of Russia and brought Russians to their knees.

And I would not be at all surprised if women in Russia soon start giving birth not because they want a child, but because it is necessary – because Putin said so. This is the great tragedy of the Russian people: the war will end sooner or later, but the zombies will remain. And there is no vaccine that will quickly bring them back to life. There is only hope: time heals and removes the poison from the body. Although not all survive...