Russians were quizzed on whether they felt “guilty” about Vladimir Putin’s ongoing war campaign in Ukraine. Daniil Orain, who runs the YouTube channel 1420, asked one hundred everyday Russians whether they feel guilty about the invasion. During the interviews, they used the term “special military operation” – the preferred Kremlin phrase – after President Putin criminalized references to events in Ukraine as an “invasion” or “war”.
Across the one hundred interviewed civilians, Russians were largely split on the issue.
Dozens interviewed reported feeling no guilt at all while many dodged the question completely.
This comes as the war in Ukraine enters its third month, as Russia continues to struggle to make breakthroughs in the country.
Several refused to answer by asking to “skip” the interview or walking away when hearing the question.
Others denied responsibility, saying it is not the fault of ordinary civilians.
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One young woman said: “I’m very sorry about it, but this is not the fault of civilians. These are the games of politicians.”
Another reacted: “To think rationally, it’s not my fault. It’s not my responsibility. I had nothing to do with it.”
Many said they “absolutely” felt guilty about the war.
One young Russian man responded: “I feel guilty for our government, not people. I am a citizen of Russia, I’m not ashamed of being a citizen.
“Unfortunately, I’m ashamed of our government.”
He said: “Personally I don’t feel guilty. I know what is the ‘Great Patriotic War’. I know what the great Russian people are.”
One teenager admitted that propaganda “at school and at home” meant it was “difficult to form an opinion on this issue”.
Viewers responded to the video by praising the bravery of the interviewer as well as those who gave their opinions.
YouTube user tankerguy05 commented: “I think it’s amazing that because of you I get to see what the Russian people think, that I get to see another perspective.
“I think it’s amazing to see what some Russians’ thoughts are about what is happening right now, even if they know what they say can get them into trouble.”
Charlene H added: “As an American, these videos are eye-opening to see. Thank you for sharing.”
Ronald O’Brien posted: “I find it interesting that everyone understood the question at least.
“It would suggest that they are aware that something bad is happening – even if they feel able to completely disassociate themselves from it (apart from the small number who said they actively approve of the ‘special operation’ and think it is necessary).”