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Russian opposition figure estimates percentage of Russians against war

Russian opposition figure estimates percentage of Russians against war Garry Kasparov (Photo: Getty Images)

Renowned Russian opposition figure Garry Kasparov has disclosed that the proportion of Russians opposing the aggressive war with Ukraine does not exceed 15%.

He told this in an interview with RBC-Ukraine.

Kasparov pointed out that even amidst the criticism of the war in Russia, including from liberal quarters, there is generally limited opposition to the war. The majority of Russian society appears unwilling to condemn the expansionist war from a moral standpoint.

"In the best-case scenario, the number of people in Russia who are morally opposed to the war, I think, is around 10-15% – that's the ceiling. It's 15-20 million people. This is what Putin has achieved over many years," Kasparov stated.

He highlighted that the issue isn't so much about ideological efforts but rather about the manipulation of minds and complete indifference to any moral values.

"However, again, Hitler had an ideology, while here it's more like 'whatever the party does today, that's what we should do.' It's even closer to the Soviet Union," he added.

Kasparov emphasized the stance of Russian liberals and opposition figures, who advocate for Russian patriots to oppose the war. However, he noted that subsequent points are often raised: "because it's not going well, because a Ukrainian drone attacked Moscow because NATO has come close to the border."

"It's very interesting and indicative that there's practically no moral component there. And this, I believe, is what links Hitler's Germany with Putin's Russia – the absence of a genuine moral backbone within society," he remarked.

The opposition figure acknowledged that there are many people who are against the war, but they constitute a clear minority. He reminded that even many opposition figures in Russia have fully accepted the annexation of Crimea.

Lack of protests in Russia

Kasparov mentioned that during the initial days of the full-scale war in Russia, demonstrations took place. Around 200-250 thousand people participated, with about 20 thousand arrests and some individuals receiving prison sentences.

"Of course, those who were bolder participated. In principle, it's no more than one percent. It turns out to be the same figure – 20 million people who sympathized," he explained.

He added that many believed any mobilization would lead to protests, but this turned out not to be the case. According to him, Russia lacks a civil society; there are only isolated courageous individuals who engage in solitary pickets and end up in prison. The opposition figure stated, "They are few, dozens, maybe hundreds. We understand that this is a drop in the ocean."

Kasparov noted that Russians are increasingly becoming accustomed to the war. This implies that the regime doesn't have the internal problems that many had hoped for. He claimed this indicates that the 20-year activism of liberal human rights organizations was a fiction. The regime exploited them to prepare for an aggressive war.

Kasparov believes that the West didn't heed his warnings for many years, since he was in the minority.

"The last politician in Russia who spoke out against the war and Russian imperialism was Boris Nemtsov. He was killed in 2015. So, the authorities clearly knew who was opposing them. Everyone else accepted Putin's imperial policy as a given. However, they would tell the West that Russia was moving towards evolution and democracy – the favorite term was 'hybrid democracy in Russia,'" he remarked.

The opposition figure mentioned that his warnings weren't heard as he left Russia in 2013. They argued that those who remained in the country and continued to "fight against Putin" had a different perspective. He believes this led to Putin neutralizing any tendencies in the West that could have aided Ukraine in preparing for an invasion.

"Unfortunately, there's no other option for dispelling the illusions of Russian society except raising the Ukrainian flag in Sevastopol. If Russia has a chance for the future, it's tied to eradicating the imperial idea from minds. And this can only be done with robust means," he added.

According to a social survey conducted at the end of July, 75% of Russians supported the war against Ukraine.