We had an election last week in my local council, for those that don’t know what an election is it’s where you vote people in within a democratic country who then decide a variety of matters concerning how your town, county or country is run and governed.
If you choose not to vote saying everyone is being as bad as each other than your probably listening and feeding off two much right wing propaganda that encourages or even legislates for others that do not follow their agenda to not to have a vote so as to maximise the chances of their own people getting into power.
If you yourself make the mistake of going on to vote for a right wing party they will likely go on to not have your interests at heart but their own instead and when in power will primarily focus on making themselves and there buddies wealthier at the expense of others just like you and me. Which will ironically potentially make you even more disillusioned with politics and make you mutter under your breath again about how useless and self interested that all politicians are and take you back to square one of not wanting to vote again. Voting right wing parties in might be a good idea at the time but like dangerous drugs and heavy drinking sessions it causes pain and is not recommend to be done on any regular basis what so ever and will be deeply regretted sooner or later.
Voting is such a timeless and fun game really in capitalist free thinking parts of the world, one of the greatest games that there ever there was is politics, trying to understand it, trying to come to terms with what happens and doesn’t happen and trying to make some sense of it. Such a timeless and fun game really where the poor and perplexed try to vote in people that will at the very least attempt to do something that is in the interest of those that vote for them opposed to those that you can vote in that fight against you and vote in policies against your interests and mainly to serve themselves.
They say as you get older your political leanings get more right wing again another probable lie again stated to get people to vote right wing. I seem to be voting more away from mainstream left wing parties such as the Labour party in my country and turning to the greens. Which suits me fine.
We have 3 councilors now in my council ward and all of them are Green party councilors, which means Exeter now has a total of 5 green councilors which although not a huge amount, it does mean though that with the support of the liberal democrats it now makes them the second biggest grouping on my council and so the official council opposition for the first time ever, which is fantastic news here for Exeter and I am delighted that I voted for them and had a green party poster up in my window for the election. They are tremendously well organised and focused on a green friendly future in Exeter and it is amazing to see them doing so well here for the first time ever.
Well some upsetting news last week in my team at work, as they have been recruiting for a fulltime employee to come along and work with us. We have had two temporary members of staff doing an awesome job at getting work done in the office and really going the extra mile in order to get things done and answer the phones so that things get done and customers are served. Not every customer is ever happy, but to be honest in our department over 50% of the calls that come through to us are complaints anyway and it’s a matter of managing those complaints and signposting their enquiry to a person that will take them further or tell them that we can’t help.
Two of my colleagues went for the full time job that was being recruited for and they both were unsuccessful in their interviews and both told there services were no longer required at our office and one of them has until the end of this week to leave and the other will leave at the end of the first week in June.
I must repeat myself they were both very good at what they did and had undertaken a lot of training (mostly by me) which helped them be able to be as good as what they did. They were not only well trained they were keen to get the job done and jump in and rise to whatever challenge was presented to them in the job.
So we gain one new employee at the expense of losing two and our managers will call this progress. I will again attempt to help train up the new employee and ensure they are competent enough to ensure they can do the job properly but ultimately whether they are any good will be up to the new employee and will only be seen in time.
When I started in the team that I worked my two colleges had nearly 20 years each of experience in the team and were therefore blood good at what they did. I am now the most experienced member of the team and I have nowhere near as much experience as my predecessors. I know who to ask for help but will never know all the answers, though my job is not to know all the answers but to make sure I know who to assign a call or case to that will be able to provide those answers to and I can just about do that!
On the terrible day last week that my colleagues found out that they no longer had their jobs I also got in a bloody terrible argument in my local bar and that argument has hopefully now been resolved and out of respect to the person that I was arguing with I will not go into it further here, but at the very least I can say I hate disagreements and arguing with people.
But the situation in the bar my morose mood all combined into an unpleasant evening for one and all. I do hope the situation that led to the argument does not resurface again. Both myself and the person I was arguing with left on good terms after the argument and with any luck no further troubles will occur. I think with what he was going through it was probably a crap day for him too.
It was the icing on the cake to a really crappy day last Thursday.
Trying to look up a spelling I just googled what time era are we living in and even Google has an answer to that. According to the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), the professional organization in charge of defining Earth’s time scale, we are officially in the Holocene (“entirely recent”) epoch, which began 11,700 years ago after the last major ice age. Well you learn something new with every random Google search.
What I was really thinking about was what would the greatest minds from our history have made of living in this world today and how do we or don’t we live together and why.
Marx got pissed at the elite of his era and mass production of suffering and exploitation of human beings for the generation of profit. Jesus got pissed of at the bankers profiteering around the house of god. Imagine how pissed off they would both be today living here knowing what we have access to know and see witht the mass industrialisation of war and the sheer volumes of profits made through the suffering of others. Russia, China, USA, Britain and many unnamed countries have made vast profits from the selling of huge amounts of armaments around the globe and sometimes using them in their own wars to be it in Africa, Middle East or now even in Ukraine. Do those profits then go on to build our schools and pay for the lighting of our streets?
Though everyone’s side (depending on who your selling arms to or profiting from the sales of arms for or who your media owners and political masters portray to you concerning what is a just war, just sale of arms and a just profit (scrap the last one we are taught there is no such thing as a just profit all profit is good right?) and what is a righteous side of a war or what is a war that we don’t even have to look at or witness the suffering off due to a media blackout instead by again said media barons or politcal leaders.
This warmanship has been ticking along throughout the 20th century and also spilling over into the 21st century and the mass profiteering of said wars from the so called civilised and industrial nations of the world is also relentless.
It’s like the world has gone mad and no one in power has either bothered to notice, bothered to care or bothered to believe there is any point in changing what is clearly a very damaging system of industrial and economic development and growth.
Religion often states that sins and evil deeds are in the hearts and minds of mere men or women and we often are seen to make our decisions on how we descend to hell or rise to heaven on the micro scale of small acts of goodness, kindness or wickness and evil.
But we dont here so much about the macro acts of evil such the selling of weapons by our goverenements to known corrupt regimes in the middle east or africa in order to make profit and generate the production of further weapons for which ever next war that comes along. And what happens if people are being born into systems where those in power at the top of the state load the dice so that any that stand against them, whether righteous or fair or immoral and wicked are all doomed to fail or fall.
Whether it be being called to arms in an unjust war and asked to shoot innocents or be shot oneself, where is there God in these micro moments in time or which side is God standing upon when the men pulling the trigger are themselves potential victims of the system that has groomed them since birth by old men in charge of buying and profiting from the weapons their youths are trained to then fire potential one day at us.
I have heard a phrase a lot recently when people talk about a variety of issues which seem unjust, unfair and deeply worrying. Those words are this like in this day and age in the 21st century things like this should not be happening. Well unfortunately bad things should not be happening at such an extent that they are, but they are.
The mechanisation and industrial scale of sustaining human existence as it stands presently is vast and we don’t try to stop and say why should we produce profits to sustain our lives, how do we produce said profit to sustain our lives and what are the consequences for humanity for the way we vote, live and produce products and expolit others.
We assume that on our little micro level if we are lucky it’s a little bit of a shitty world, where bad things happen to other people and if we are lucky they don’t happen to us. Is that the best that the 21st century has to offer the people on this planet, is that all that what history has taught us all.
Well I hope not – there must be more to life than the chaos that is created right in front of our eyes or hidden out of our sight.
Well the title pretty much sums up this week. Mum has finally moved back to Devon. It took her a while in many ways, but she is so pleased to be back. She has made some wonderful friends in Conrwall and I also really loved the village that she lived in called Breage. But with the death of my brother who also lived in Cornwall and with the development of Coronavirus and household lockdowns it made mum feel more isolated than ever and needing to have a move to a place where she felt more at home and settled and so has now moved back to Devon.
The home she is living in is in a village called Yoeford and she is renting a property until her new home is built in Cheriton Fitzpaine. Yeoford is easy for me to reach on the train from Exeter, although Cheriton Fitzpaine where she will be finally moving to, has no train or bus from my home city Exeter so will be a little bit more difficult for me to get to as I do not drive. But will need to see how that goes when she moves in later in the year to her house move into the place she has bought that is still beign built at the moment.
Mum also has a dog called Milly, she is very sweet and gentle but also nervous and very, very shy. She does not let me get neat her even though mum has had her for 3 years or more now. But hopefully the more I see her the more she will get used to me. Some of mums friends in cornwall were wonderfully patient with Milly and were able to get close to her and she would always look forward to her treats from mums next door neighbour.
The dog has really surprised me with how resilient she has been in the move I was worrying that she was going to have a mini melt down in the move but hopefully that does not appear to happen.
We think that Milly was abused before being rescued by a charity and she has not had an opportunity yet to have any intensive training to develop her and I think if she were a human she would certainly be considered very autistic and incredibly shy. At one time she would go on hunger strikes and stop drinking when new people would come into mums’ house to stay and she will always be somewhat of a fussy eater. But it seems the only means of control she has over the situations she finds herself. Luckily she has continued to eat and drink during the move and although she will be a little confused by what is going on she seems happy to be where ever mum is.
When they learn how to plug you into a digital world, you might not ever know how to unplug and come back to the real world or even the reason why you should. They will probably start plugging in the old, disabled and poor into a new matrix of control as an act of kindness, in order to save us from ourselves.
My mum has finally sold her home in Cornwall and due to move to Devon next Wednesday; we are all really looking forward to it. Though moving during an energy crisis is not the easiest time to move if you’re trying to save money on your energy bills. Mum has spent hours over the last week on the phone to utility companies, banks and council officers trying to update her home location status with them and there are very few people left in those organisations to take her calls due to the reduction in customer services employees and a push to do everything online.
One of the key roles that I have to do in my job at the council in Exeter is answer the phone and speak to customers and as such my job is also under threat due to long term restructuring aims seeing this role as a money saving cost effective form of progress to get rid of. This so called progress has forced me to bounce in and out of work for the last 26 years of my working life, sometimes choosing to apply for new jobs prior to an organisation or role being shut down or sometimes being made redundant due to restructuring issues and businesses closing down while I am still employed at them.
I can honestly say I am a very good hardworking and dedicated employee in an area of employment that people no longer wish to employ. I know for a fact that the work that I do is hard work and still needs to be done. I solve problems that are presented to my organisations, I am always busy there is always something important that needs to be done. By sacking people like me that need to answer phones and work with customers it does not make those customers problems go away it just means those customers are either ignored now or processed via a different channel.
This job is one of the many work roles in the UK that has been rapidly phased out by many companies there is a money saving exercise to increase profits by not enabling customers to speak to staff in business and government agencies.
First that sacked the face to face staff and I did not speak out, although I too was made redundant.
Then they came for the staff that talked to customers over the phone and again I did not speak out and again I was at risk and at times made redundant or moved on.
Finally the aim will likely be to digitise the workings of staff customer service roles so that there will be none left to hire, and likely none left to speak out too!
I strongly disagree with the digitising and outsourcing to computers of employed roles within any organisations and my main reason for this is that is businesses do not need to hire people and people do not have money from working to afford to pay to put a roof over their head and feed and clothe themselves then the state will not hand them those resources on a plate.
Either so called wealthy societies such as ours learn to adapt to look after and resource their most vulnerable members of society be they pensioners, disabled or the out of work or there will be a considerable amount of damage and ongoing suffering in society to these vulnerable individuals people claim to care but often money and actions or even lack of money and lack of action speaks louder than words.
No mainstream political party in the UK grasps this nettle at present as both Labour and the Conservative parties consistently want to chase the right wing element of the voting public in this country which is why the labour party do not have my vote in the upcoming council elections and it is a labour party that is presently facilitating my next round of redundancy at the council.
I have just written to my local MP Ben Bradshaw asking him if he wholeheartedly endorse the new planned restructuring of employment roles that are going to take place at Exeter council by a labour council and merely blames the Conservative for the cuts that will be endorsed in customer services roles and can he explain to me why I should vote Labour in the next council election and vote in my own potential redundancy at the hand of a Labour lead Exeter Council?
Though I cannot stop the world from spinning even when it appears to be spinning out of control, I can at least look to make sense of the madness and express my disapproval in my own way to my political representatives at the very least.
Don’t worry about going to hell we might have been there already for quite some time.
Who and how do we speak up for or fight against for what is right, if all sides can unleash monsters to their own sides or onto the other and do what is wrong. We are rightfully horrified by Russia’s invasion of a neighbouring sovereign state, claiming to be for historical and self defensive reasons, all of which to my eyes are falsehoods, propoganda and disinformation, this is a land and resource grab with the political advantage of claiming it’s for historical self-defence reasons. But puting it simply you don’t bomb women, children, hospitals and schools as a form of self-defence it is a form of tyranny, unlawful abuse and murder.
The USA our leader of the free world unleashed a form of living hell unto the citizens of Iraq when it invaded to enforce regime change upon the country and that policy still scars their doctrine, actions and motives to this day. Yes Saddam Hussein was a dangerous dictator to his own people and controlled a great deal of oil as a natural resources that sustained his tyranny, but you just can’t free citizens of a tyrannical regime by bombing them and freeing them to their deaths. The seeking or profiteering from the act of building and buying weapons and then occupying other countries and destroying what little infrastructure that they had in order to maintain a reasonable level of existence in no way does any good for your cause if you are the so called leader of the free world.
As for the country that I live in Britain, well according to Boris Jonson our Prime Minster we fight for freedom, which as the country that heads the common wealth where countries follow our unelected head of state rather than an elected leader seems a little bit of a strange motivation for us to have, free to be ruled by our monarch but not by your own unelected dictator. It’s a little like the pot calling the kettle black in other words the words used to convey that the criticisms a person or act is aiming at someone else’s action could equally well apply to themselves or what they are doing.
The US, China and Russia are all well oiled military machines with police regimes as well as military regimes, you can argue that they must have strong police forces and military might in order to defend their own places in the world as well fight off forces of dissent from home and abroad.
So what awesome things do we do when were not at each other’s necks preparing for world war 3, well then we had and still continue to have economic wars where you starve your opponent of resource, power and influence, whilst maximising your own resources power and influence. Not forgetting that in the meantime there are two key resources that produce the maximum amount or profit that it is vital to exploit in order to get one over on your opponents that of people and planet.
The greater you exploit people and planet, the wealthier you become, the wealthier you become the more you will exploit people and planet. The ever increasing cycle goes on and on. So like I said in the beginning don’t worry about going to hell we might have been there already for quite some time.
So what the hell does any of this mean – well for one thing there are at least two sides to any evil and although all the answers to resolve these questions might not be enacted in law in order to advocate solutions we must first acknowledge there is an ongoing systematic problem.
We also need to hope and pray that there is still a living breathing planet left to fight for by the time we have worked out what is worth fighting for and how to go about engaging in the fight or engaging in the peace.
When I was 19 and studying politics and economics at university in Southampton I had a dream that really inspired me at the time and I thought that the dream was so unusual and important and like a revelation that I still remember it to this day.
The dream started with me in a dark basement where I was then walked up the stairs out of the the dark basement by my brother into a beautiful and flourishing garden in daylight with a huge oak tree with green leaves on it at the centre of the garden. The oak tree had a small cat trying to catch leaves from the ground but the branches were too high up for the cat, so the cat could not attach the leaves like it wanted to.
Then there was also a very interesting sight on the grass of the garden where I saw 3 almost Aztec multi coloured lizards waking around in like a circle. I have always been interested in the meaning of dreams and their ability to be an interpretation of our present or a possible insight into the future.
From what I could decipher from the dream the dream was kind of reflecting on the fact that I was going to come out of a dark place where into a spiritually better place almost like an awakening.
Very soon after I had this dream I unfortunately experienced my first psychosis which was very upsetting and unsettling. I lost my home, many friends, a lot of money and had to move to a new place and move back in with my mum, while I came to terms with what had happened to me and tried to heal myself and prepare myself to be strong enough to make my way in the world again.
When I had my first psychosis I had no experience of mental health difficulties and no idea what was happening to me and it was a very scary moment in my life. But this dream gave me strength and comfort in that although I would be losing out and experiencing suffering in the short term I new I had the potential to hopefully come out of the experience stronger and wiser and be in a better place than where I had come from before.
Just like walking up the stairs out of the basement into the beautiful garden with the oak tree. But even in that garden there were still potential trials and tribulations as well as wonders and opportunities, with the threat of the cat trying in vain to attack the oak tree, and the wonder of the three multicoloured lizards walking around in a circle on the grass. This all took place in a beautiful setting of the oak tree in full bloom on what looked like a summer’s day. It felt that so long as I continued in life to walk up the stairs out of the basement to the garden that I would be ok and have my brother now in spirit around to assist me should I even need him to show me the way to walk.
This life is a lot harder than I ever thought it could be but at the same time I do have a feeling that my soul chose to be born now at this time in this place and face the life choices that I make and try to come to terms with and survive and thrive with regard to whatever comes my way. I do not know what is around the corner, but I do know that I will always try to do my best for god, life and those that I love.
What has your chancellor done today to make you feel good. Well nothing. If you are a pensioner, disabled or unemployed, with the biggest fall in living standards since the 1950’s there is nothing in this budget mini statement for you. Those that are vulnerable and suffering will only suffer more and be more vulnerable.
When I work and have a roof over my head that I can afford to pay for, I never have a problem with paying taxes this is partly under the naive assumption and understanding that I hope that my taxes are going to where they need to go to and arriving in good time to make a difference to those that need them. Well they say charity begins at homes and so should taxes.
My mum is a pensioner on a fixed income and so there is no help for her in this budget. I also really can’t afford to be out of work and even though my employment is at risk in the council that I work for again due to conservative party cut backs and savings need to be made by my employer I must still aim to look after my health and stay well and keep in work as the alternative of being out of work is just not an option.
One of the key employment threads that I have seen throughout my lifetime is that if a job is important and needs doing that is not a guarantee enough to ensure that someone is willing or able to pay for that work to be done. I have worked for a wildlife charity that ran out of money to pay to it’s staff, a recycling centre that sold its remanufactured products to customers that failed to make enough profit from its works that it did that then went bust and also worked in government organisations that have been shut down due to changes in political parties in central government. None of these business, charity or government closures are in any way a measure of progress and improvement to the economy or even to society.
British capitalism is weird, incompetently wasteful and institutional corrupt. Though I Will still ironically support it over a regime in which I don’t even have a say or a vote. On the one hand we belch out huge sums of money to the monarchy for knighthoods (knighthoods to people that stand in our second house of power of government or house of lords). The house of lords still exists as it suits those in power to not have a second house that actually wields any power that would be a threat to those in the house of commons thus the status quo remains and reform does not appear to be an option, as the politicians at the top on the political right continue to line their own pockets with money exploited from the governing system as it exists with the purchasing of power and influence from those in power to those formerly holding power or in positions to financially benefit from the decisions made at the top. It’s a kind of old boys network that stinks with the smell of corruption and jobs for the boys mentality.
On a separate note the British monarchy also are people that inherit lands and earn profits off their own lands that do not deserve or require a penny from the state or from the common man or women of society and yet we fund and employee them as if our very lives depended on the patriotic cash with which is given to them from the state or the lack of taxes they pay for the resources and incomes that they earn. Our head of state is not elected; they are born into the role. Also unlike many modern European countries we do not invest in modernising infrastructure and political socioeconomic infrastructure as a given. We cut it down rather than build it up, again its easier to throw a pound in a budget statement to the queen than it is to the poor or to social and economic infrastructure projects. People will vote to spend money on the wealthy whilst spending on the poor is a vote losing issue.
Those at the top of the income pyramid continue to profit at the expense of those at the bottom. There is more chance of a person releasing themselves from this horrible and damaging system though the action of committing suicide than from earning enough money to no longer need to worry about money and get out of this socioeconomic trap that as rats we appear to run around the wheels of and face the trials and tribulations of only blaming ourselves when we fall down in a system designed to let us fail.
Do not worry I am in no way at risk of suicide myself but have born witness to many souls due to themselves seeing no way out from the chains of debt and an inability to earn money in this society due to the difficulty of holding down or even getting a job that you can do that pays the bills. Suicide of those that see no economic way out of there circumstance should be seen as politically sanctioned crime and murder and not the fault of the actual victim themselves.
I will continue to try and keep a roof over my head and work in an economy that no longer wishes to employ me with areas of work that I am able to undertake, whilst trying to keep my head above water and myself healthy and sane. Please wish me best of British luck in these weird and difficult times to live and try to exist.
Aleksandr Dugin is a Russian political analyst and strategist known for his nationalistic views that are totalitarian in perspective in other words the concept of universal suffrage giving the right to vote to all adult citizens, regardless of wealth, income, gender, social status, race, ethnicity, political stance, or any other restriction, subject only to relatively minor exceptions is seen as a western American view that needs to be actively opposed and he see’s the Russian state as being at war with the US and democracies of the world in order to dictate his own world view.
According to Aleksandr Dugin the Russian philosopher and key ally of Putin. Truth does not exist as we see or believe it, but is a matter of interpretation. He states that because no one has monopoly on the truth this then means that truth is relative. Well he is right that no one has a monopoly on the truth but truth is not merely relative when you start to deliberately mislead and misdirect and define the lies you are dealing in as truths. The Russian state cannot even confess that it is presently at war let alone have the ideological conviction to confess what its actual global agenda is. If Putin is the fist of Russia then this man is its heart and soul.
Russia is being driven down a very dark path and is determined to drag the rest of the western world with it would still consider victory to this being left deep within any nuclear bunkers, where it sees any potential type of victory as being an outcome that destroys the west even at the expense of destroying itself. when you lose sight of the value of humanity and the importance of life on earth, it just becomes a numbers game where even a no score draw is far better than any perceived victory by the west. My enemies defeat at my hands is a victory for me is how i read between the lines with the fascionalistic philosophy that really is chilling and should have us all deeply concerned.
The democratic soverign nations of the world are not trying to start this mans world war 3 that he thinks has already begun but moving to try to prevent it.
The fall of the Soviet Union left a huge ideological vacuum inside Russian institutions—including the Russian army—that was partly filled by his ideas, Dugin explains.
“From 1991, he started to fill this vacuum by spreading my views among the officers and the decision-makers, explaining the reasons why the US and the West were still pressuring Russia despite the Cold War having ended. He told them about the importance of developing a new idea of Russian geopolitics that should be diametrically opposed to the goals of the Western think tanks and that should stretch towards the creation of a Eurasian bloc. The rapid spread of his ideas in Russia deeply influenced Putin, even though he was the successor of Yeltsin. He is not an ideological person—he is a pragmatic realist— but he understands that Durgin’s vision is the proper one if Russia is to face challenges head on in the coming years”.
Putin’s opponents accuse Dugin of being a right-wing extremist, thus confirming the charge that the Russian president is promoting fascist ideas. These accusations are based, among other things, on the authors that inspire Dugin’s thought. His intellectual journey began at the very beginning of the ‘80s, when he was just a student from a middle-class communist family in Moscow.
Russia plans to fight to the end (the end of what I am not exactly sure neither am I sure of whome it will fight to the end with either.
If your Putin you try not to worry about the power of your opposition from within your own country you can always criminalising any that oppose your point of view and threaten all that oppose you with a 15-year jail sentence. The west finally has a cause worth uniting and fighting for whilst Russia on the other hand looks to legislate, dictate and indoctrinate those that are forced to watch and listen to why it thinks the invades of Ukraine is wrong.
While the west will not put boots on the ground or planes in the sky over Ukraine, Putin claims his war is not even a war and his occupation and bombing of civilians is not even taking place. One super power says it cannot commit, whilst another claims’ it has not committed to a war in Ukraine and the atrocities it clearly repeatedly does for Putin are not actually happening.
Thousands of people have been arrested in cities across Russia for protesting at the bloodshed in Ukraine. New laws have forced the BBC, CNN and other media organisations to suspend their reporting from the country. They are not allowed to describe Russia’s assault on Ukraine as an invasion.
In a Russia, the truth of the war on Ukraine is available. The risk comes in sharing it. Putin’s Russia has brought a new intensity to its crackdown on independent news.
As mentioned it is now a crime — punishable by up to 15 years in prison — to publish “fake” information about the all-out attack on Ukraine. The government has blocked Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and news websites aimed at Russians, such as Latvia-based Meduza. It is a crime for the average citizen to publicly post information that contradicts the government line.
In a meeting on March 16, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of a “necessary self-purification” and called on Russians to cast out any dissenting voice.
“The Russian people will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and simply spit them out like a bug that accidentally flew into their mouths,” Putin said.
Natasha Rastova, a former Russian journalist and author of two histories of Russian journalism, said the restrictions on free speech marked a turning point, even by Russian standards.
“In a matter of days, Putin went from being the leader of an authoritarian state to becoming a full-scale dictator,” Rastova said.
Despite the new restrictions, Russians can still access news from outside. The risk comes in sharing it.
Russians who want outside news have to be adaptable. Facebook is banned, but with software called virtual private networks, users can circumvent restrictions.
That said, special apps are not essential. Broadly, the internet still operates. Connection speeds might be slower after a leading internet service provider dropped its service, but Russians can read articles from the BBC, CBS News and other news organizations. They can watch videos on YouTube.
“Despite all the efforts of the Russian authorities to clean up the information space, alternative sources of information still exist in Russia,” said Viktor Muchnik, who ran the independent news website TV2 in Tomsk, Siberia, with his wife Viktoria.
We reached Muchnik in Armenia, where he fled after the government shut down TV2 on March 7.
Many younger Russians use the encrypted messaging app Telegram to follow Russian-speaking reporters they trust. They can see reports, photos and videos within the app, or open links they find there.
Russians know they might be stopped by police who demand to see their phones.
“In the event that someone is stopped and searched, even just having those apps on one’s phone could be risky,” said Paul Goode, the McMillan Chair of Russian Studies at Carleton University in Canada.
Russians risk severe penalties if they are caught sharing banned information.
“Russians can be fined and prosecuted for facilitating the dissemination of ‘fake news’, discrediting Russia’s army, and supporting international sanctions on Russia,” Goode said. “This includes posts and re-posts made on social media, including even posts made by other people on one’s discussion thread.”
While younger Russians get their news from the internet, older Russians watch television.
“A lot of people still watch television, which is completely controlled by the state,” said Anton Shirikov, researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “These people tend to be older, from smaller towns or villages.”
Television delivers the government’s message. When Putin made false claims about the people of Donbas facing genocide at the hands of the Ukrainians; of the U.S.-backing bioweapons labs in Ukraine; and of Russia having “no other option for self defense,” that is what Russian television reported.
The massive bombing of Ukrainian cities and civilian deaths are minimized.
When younger Russians show their parents videos of missiles hitting apartment blocks in Ukraine, they face denial. Michnik said it goes against the message their parents have been hearing virtually every day for eight years, since Russia annexed Crimea.
Jonathan Becker, a political scientist at Bard College, shared a message he got from a friend inside Russia. The friend’s wife installed Telegram on her mother’s phone. The mother is a Putin supporter.
“She still thinks that all the videos she watches are Ukrainians bombing themselves,” the email said. “What can one say?”
The Russians we contacted all said that these intergenerational splits are common.
They and other observers also raised the concern that international efforts to pressure Russia economically could undermine access to outside news. When Visa and Mastercard stopped processing credit cards in Russia, that affected some internet users.
“It is increasingly difficult for Russians to pay for foreign services like virtual private networks, so it’s conceivable that this escape hatch could be closed off eventually by the impact of international sanctions,” said Goode.
There is also the fear that some of YouTube’s restrictions on advertising revenues inside Russia could make it harder for independent journalists to finance their work.
Russian journalist Mikhail Fishman was an anchor for the independent station TV Rain until he left Russia on March 3. He said unintended ripple effects could become even more important as Russians begin to feel the sting of economic sanctions.
“The more impact the sanctions have, the more will be the demand for alternative sources of information,” Fishman said.