What is the current undercurrent of Russian life? Helpfully, Peter Pomerantsev, a British Television producer and author who has dissected the origins of Putinism, explains:
When I went to work as a TV producer in Moscow in the early 2000s, I would ask my peers which of the “selves” they grew up with was the “real” them. How did they locate the difference between truth and lies? “You just end up living in different realities,” they would tell me, “with multiple truths and different ‘yous.’ ”
When members of this generation came to power they created a society that was a feast of simulations, with fake elections, a fake free press, a fake free market and fake justice. They are led by religious Russian patriots who curse the decadent West while keeping their children and money in London and informed by television producers who make Putin-worshiping shows during the day, and listen to energetically anti-Putin radio shows the moment they get into their cars after work.
It’s almost as if you are encouraged to have one identity one moment and the opposite one the next. So you’re always split into little bits, and can never quite commit to changing things.