President Vladimir Putin’s war has meant that all Russians risk looking like villains. But not all Russians support Putin, and many of them do not feel a complicated mix of anger and shame – and a determination to do something to help Ukraine and show the world that not all Russians support their country’s leaders.
Take Melbourne journalist Sima Tsyskin – a member of Australia’s Russian diaspora and former Russia correspondent for SBS – who joins the latest episode of Good weekend talk to discuss everything from the “cleverly designed bombing” of propaganda in Russian state media to the chaos, corruption and robbers of the country’s oligarchs.
“If I can make a gloomy prediction, it took Germany more than 70 years to wash itself clean of Hitler’s atrocities,” Tsyskin said. “I am afraid there is a long, similar road ahead for the Russians in the future.”
Host of Good weekend assistant editor Greg Callaghan, the podcast conversation is based on Good weekend senior author Tim Elliott’s latest cover story – “NEW!” – where he takes the temperature of the Russian diaspora in Australia.
The first thing Elliott points out is that there is no such thing as a Russian society in Australia: people have come here at different times, from different places, for different reasons. “And that obviously informs their views on the war and Putin and the world as it is,” Elliott said. “So trying to decipher something clear in all that is pretty difficult.”
However, some things are obvious. “Despite whatever Putin says – that Ukraine is really part of greater Russia; that Ukraine is an artificial country – it is a unit of proud people and people who resist the invaders. “
Some Russians in Australia are predicting a “new Russian revolution” when Western sanctions begin to bite. “The Russians will start to see empty shelves, and at that point there will be a classic phrase … the refrigerator will win the battle against the TV,” says Elliott. “I guess your hunger wins over. It’s very convincing – to be hungry.”