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‘People are scared’: A Russian who opposes war speaks out on state-controlled media and economic collapse

With the war in Ukraine entering its third week, this is what’s happening on the other side of the border.

Video

Alexandra, a Russian student in Bristol, posted recently on the r/Bristol subreddit, saying: “I am Russian. And I am ashamed.”

She wrote it to disassociate herself from what her government is doing and speak out in support of Ukraine. She has been compelled to attend protests in Bristol, Bath and London and give speeches to show solidarity.

In this video, she speaks out on the Russian state’s control of information about the war, the increasing authoritarianism in the country and her fear that the West’s sanctions will hit common people in Russia the hardest.

According to the New York Times, most social media except Telegram is now blocked in the country and much of the free media has been shut down. It also reports that Russian authorities will consider anyone who refers to the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine as a war to be spreading disinformation – and may sentence them to up to 15 years in prison.

Amid tightening sanctions from the West, which have been explored in full by the BBC, Alexandra fears that common Russians will be hit hardest while those in power remain largely untouched. Her parents are already noticing food prices going up, before the warehouses have even emptied.

She argues that one way to get around this would be for the UK to put pressure on tax havens to restrict bank accounts linked to the Kremlin. As the i reports, the British government are in talks with UK overseas territories and Crown Dependencies on the matter. The article notes Global Witness found that in 2018 alone, Russian oligarchs had around £34bn hidden in British tax havens – five times more than in the mainland UK.

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