Votápek argues that the fact that Russians announce their support for Vladimir Putin in the media does not mean that it really has to be. It is based on the experience of living in Russia in the 1990s.
“Now that the brutal Soviet propaganda has come back to them and they are reaffirming that of the party and that of the Kremlin, they will never tell the public that they do not support the Kremlin narrative,” he said, adding that these people agree internally. “I hope it turns out that Putin’s support is significantly lower in Russia,” he added.
Votápek compared the fact that certain words cannot be used in Russia in the context of war to a plot in a world famous fantasy about a young wizard. “It’s like Harry Potter, you weren’t allowed to say Voldemort’s name there either, but you had to write it down. So they use the word ‘two words’ the same way, unspecified, instead of ‘no war’, meaning ‘no war’. But everyone knows the two words, and the police will arrest every one of these protesters anyway.”
Vevera opposes and presents his own experience of life during his student years in Russia, when he was fascinated by how the people there, although very friendly and kind, on a more national level high, would still have yearned for a great Russia and missed the times when they ruled the whole world.
“They said, ‘We didn’t have computers, but the whole world was afraid of us.’ “Russian democracy in the 1990s and early millennia impoverished ordinary people, and Putin played a really important role for ordinary Russians back then, because he saved some of the assets overseas that corporations wanted to keep for the Russians,” Vevera said.
“The story is that Russia is going to Ukraine to defend the Slavic brothers against the fascists, that’s why the so-called denazification is mentioned. And such a story is very strong and in my opinion it will find a wide and wide audience in Russia,” he notes.
Votápek agrees that the propaganda in Russia is very strong and according to him can be compared to the propaganda of the Third Reich. “But it didn’t work there in the final either. Propaganda can do a lot, but it won’t change the basic physical facts, it can’t change the fact that ten, fifteen, maybe twenty thousand soldiers will not come back from Ukraine. Nobody will explain it to the families, the boys will die there and they will be missing, these people will see it and no amount of propaganda will change that.”
“Just as it will not change the fact that the Kremlin expected that in four weeks there would be no war, that it would ‘squeeze’ Ukraine faster, and that Putin’s propaganda would not would just not explain and ‘dare’. This will make it more and more uncomfortable for people to pretend to believe Kremlin propaganda. But for now, it’s convenient for them to pretend they believe in the propaganda and that they can “shut up” and continue. But as soon as they don’t have to, that they get rid of the fear of repression, that it becomes fashionable not to be okay, they take to the streets,” said the former consul.
Agreement on two Ukraine?
According to Votápek, Ukrainians showed courage and bravery, which Czechoslovaks failed to show twice in the last century. They therefore have every right to agree with the Russians on what they see fit, and we must support them whatever they do. agree on.
“And even if it ends with the creation of two Ukraines, we have already had it here in Germany in the past. Konrad Adenauer also understood that he would not do anything with East Germany, that he there were simply Russians there and that he would not bring them out in this generation, so he focused on building a beautiful West Germany, towards which all Easterners wanted And in the end, it turned out to be a great model, a complete victory for Germany, which finally united and prospered today, and above all: as a bloodless solution. So I can imagine something similar,” Votápek described.
Vevera also stressed that we must stay at war, otherwise the Ukrainians will lose. “What is happening now is a completely normal phase of society dealing with stress. Every response to an epidemic, disaster or war has certain stages. First the plan, then the direct hit, then the heroic phase and idyllic, we all remember how we used to sew drapes during the first waves of covid, now we help Ukrainians where possible.”
Then, of course, disillusion comes unequivocally. “The stress is starting to subside and we’re starting to think, ‘We’ve got it, we can afford more aid, isn’t that at the expense of our people, our poor?’ And that’s exactly what’s happening now, and Putin will count on it, so it’s time to stop the stress from sinking in and realize that we’re in the biggest mess since World War II, and if we stop to support the Ukrainians, it will be our turn in a few years. And even so, we can stretch out the idyllic phase, “said the former army psychiatrist.