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My Mother-in-Law Believes Putin on the War in Ukraine

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People carrying T-shirts with the letter Z, which has change into a logo of the Russian navy, stroll in St. Petersburg, Russia, May 9.


Dmitri Lovetsky/Associated Press

“America is out to destroy us,” stated Maria, my 92-year-old mother-in-law. She was in her Moscow kitchen. I used to be in Connecticut.

Maria survived Stalin, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the lack of two kids and an alcoholic, abusive husband. I like her, however she is a tragic instance of how susceptible human beings could be to propaganda.

I moved to Russia as a brand new school graduate in 1991. I used to be wanting to grasp the language, change into a overseas correspondent and higher perceive our Cold War enemy. What was meant to be a six-month jaunt became marriage and youngsters. It additionally tied me to Maria.

We communicate continuously as a result of my spouse loathes

Vladimir Putin.

She can’t have a dialog together with her mom with out it shifting into open battle. Maria treats me with a level of restraint Russians generally afford foreigners. I ask concerning the climate. Most days Maria is glued to Russian state TV, her unique supply of knowledge.

“Kids are dying,” I stated. “Russian kids, younger than your grandson.”

“That’s war,” she stated, flatly.

“If 50,000 die, will your opinion change?”

Vesti, Russia’s flagship information program, is filled with weird claims. Maria isn’t educated and the information is slick. The deeper Russia is submerged in lies, the extra Maria lashes out at those that communicate the reality—even household. Maria’s older sister, Zhenya, lives in Ukraine.

“Maria, they are shooting us,” Zhenya not too long ago informed Maria. This is especially surprising provided that Zhenya’s deceased husband was a profession Soviet navy officer.

“They should,” Maria replied.

Propaganda outweighs precise expertise, like Stalinism or what Maria herself noticed and felt when she visited the U.S. She got here once I was in graduate college within the mid-Nineteen Nineties. I took her purchasing at a Star Market in suburban Boston. Her eyes widened at cabinets laden with recent greens and fruit throughout winter. While our graduate college scholar life was lean by American requirements, it was over-the-top luxurious by Soviet requirements.

“They lied to us,” she stated, angrily.

“Who?” I requested.

“They,” she stated, nodding her head.

“The Kremlin?”

She nodded. On Soviet TV, the U.S. was portrayed as a wasteland of AIDS, homelessness and civil unrest, much like how it’s portrayed right now.

Now that second of self-reflection is forgotten. The sanctions verify to her what she is being informed, which is that the “special military operation” in Ukraine isn’t a couple of sovereign state defending itself towards unprovoked aggression, however as a substitute that Ukraine is a puppet being directed by the evil U.S. If Zhenya, my spouse and I can’t persuade Maria she is being fed lies then I think nothing can.

“We will win,” she stated to me, “definitely.”

The solely factor that can shift this pondering is defeat, unambiguous whole defeat. Mr. Putin doesn’t exist in a vacuum, he displays a broad swath of individuals like Maria.

Mr. Podolsky is creator of “Raising a Thief” and the Things I Didn’t Learn in School e-newsletter.

Vladimir Putin blames his struggle in Ukraine on a deliberate assault on Russia led by U.S-backed neo-Nazis, regardless of proof that Putin is ‘now mirroring the fascism and tyranny of 77 years ago.’ Images: Shutterstock/Reuters/Zuma Press Composite: Mark Kelly

Copyright ©2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared within the May 27, 2022, print version as ‘My Russian Mother-in-Law Believes Putin.’

Source: www.wsj.com

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