Op-Ed in the Washington Post by Yascha Mounk…..
The Russian people have, in many ways, been Putin’s first victims. It is they who cannot replace their president at the ballot box or speak out against him without fear of terrifying consequences. It is they who are paying the price for two decades of corruption and repression. And it is they who will see their living standards plummet over the next months.
Putin undoubtedly enjoys widespread support. But over the past week, many Russians have found the courage to criticize his assault on Ukraine, often incurring tremendous risk in the process.
Thousands have already been arrested for protesting the war. About 7,000 Russian scientists and academics have signed an open letter demanding “an immediate halt to all military operations directed against Ukraine.” Similar petitions are circulating among teachers, doctors and many other groups. What appears to be the biggest one, on Change.org, has attracted over a million signatories.
Even more Russians share these sentiments but lack the bravery or the opportunity to speak out. That probably includes some of the conscripted soldiers who have been ordered to commit deeply immoral acts — and risk their own lives — by a dictator who has been in power since before they were born.
All of this drives home the importance of continuing to draw the vital distinction between the Russian government and the Russian people — something that many pundits, politicians and institutional leaders are, sadly, failing to do….