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Photo:Z symbol flash mob at Platinum Arena in Khabarovsk,” by the City of Khabarovsk licensed under CC Attribution 4.0. Hue modified from the original.

Reznikova, Olga. “” Ordinary People” and Fascism: A Conjunctural Perspective on (Pre) War Russia.” Global Labour Journal 13, no. 3 (2022).


In the first weeks and months of the war of Russian aggression against Ukraine, one of the central questions of the Ukrainian resistance and Western observers was whether this war was “Putin’s war” or “Russia’s war” – that is, whether the Russian population at large supported the Kremlin’s fascist and imperial ideology.

Several public opinion polls – by governmental and independent research institutes –concluded that 70 percent or more of the respondents supported the war of aggression; nevertheless, there continues to be a heated debate. The credibility of such surveys is disputed because of the repression announced by the government for anti-war statements. Only one in two or one in four interviewees (depending on the survey) were willing to share their attitudes toward the war. This is important, but the results of all surveys were similar despite differing methodologies. Because the findings could be partially supplemented with qualitative methods (for example, Erpyleva, 2022), I am inclined to evaluate the results of the opinion polls as credible. Moreover, as long as other data does not refute them and we have no other basis for analysis, we
have to operate with these results of the opinion polls.

The discussions about “Putin’s war” often seem to me to disguise the truth that in Russia most intellectuals and most Russians do not or do not strongly oppose the war of aggression. The hope, especially of the international left, is placed on “the ordinary people in Russia and Ukraine” who do not want war, like all other people in the world. But who are the “ordinary Russians”? And why do they support the war of aggression and crimes against humanity in Ukraine? What ideology serves as a superstructure for the war – a war that, among other things, is waged by Russia without regard for the rational interests of its citizens?

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.