Russian Domestic Support for Ukraine Invasion Weakens as Fighters Return Home

President Putin, Victory Day, Red Square, 9 May 2023.

President Putin, Victory Day, Red Square, 9 May 2023.

The funny thing is that now there will be many such heroes all over the country, which is scary.”

According to the excerpted article from official Kremlin news outlet Parliamentskaya Gazeta, during the Victory Day celebration on 9 May, President Putin declared “all of Russia has rallied to support the participants in the special military operation in Ukraine.” Despite some skepticism of such claims, indeed, most indicators suggest that Russian civil society support for the invasion has remained high over time.[i] Some of this robust domestic support stems from the Kremlin’s control over the country’s major media, which has over the past 15 months asserted that Russian soldiers are protecting their country against a quasi-Ukrainian/Nazi threat (supported by the US and NATO).[ii] Alongside the 24/7 propaganda, the Kremlin has also enacted legislation that severely punishes any attempt to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.[iii] Nevertheless, despite the Kremlin’s tight control over the narrative, there are growing indications that some Russians are beginning to question the costs behind this conflict, and possibly, their support.

The second excerpt from a regional source in Krasnodar, 93.RU, describes the brutal kidnapping and murder of two local residents by three ex-convicts. The victims’ car had broken down, and after offering to help, the criminals forced them to withdraw money from the bank and then murdered them. The source suggests that these ex-convicts may have recently gained their freedom from prison by volunteering to fight with the Wagner private military company in Ukraine. One of them had been sentenced to 16 years in prison in 2016 for a similar murder, and the article questions how he could have been released so soon. Since “discrediting” the military is now a serious offense in Russia, the author of the article couches the assertion that these ex-convicts had been released from prison by volunteering to fight in Ukraine in vague terms. However, anonymous reader comments to this article are more forthright, pointing out that once these convicts had spent six months fighting in Ukraine, they were now free to return to former criminal habits. Another reader warns that “now there will be many such heroes all over the country, which is scary.” These comments suggest that the blowback from using convicted criminals as soldiers could reduce Russian domestic support for fighting in Ukraine.


Anton Grebennikov, “Президент: Вся страна сплотилась для поддержки участников спецоперации (President: The whole country rallied to support the participants of the special operation),” Parliamentskaya Gazeta (official Kremlin site), 9 May 2023.

Today, all of Russia has rallied to support the participants in the special military operation in Ukraine. The country is proud of its heroes, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized during the Victory Day Parade on Red Square…. “There is no more important thing now than your combat work. Today, the security of the country rests on you, the future of our statehood and our people depends on you, you honorably fulfill your military duty – you fight for Russia. Your families, children, friends are behind you, they are waiting for you,” RIA Novosti quotes the president….

Valeria Dulskaya, “Верили до последнего. Кто и зачем убил аниматоров на кубанской трассе (They believed until the very end. Who and why killed the animators on the Kuban highway),” 93.RU (Krasnodar News Site), 4 May 2023.

On the evening of April 28, animators Kirill Chubko and Tatyana Mostyko disappeared on the highway near the village of Berezanskaya in the Krasnodar Territory, who were driving home from work. They broke the wheel, and after some time they stopped communicating. Two days after the disappearance, Kirill’s car was found burned in the forest. More than 180,000 rubles disappeared from the accounts of the animators – they were withdrawn at night from different ATMs. Officers later arrested three suspects….

Unfortunately, that evening it became known that the animators were dead. On the morning of May 3, police reported that they had detained three suspects in the murder of Kirill and Tatiana. They were 31-year-old Demyan Kevorkyan from Krasnodar, 30-year-old Anatoly Dvoinikov from the Tikhoretsky district and 45-year-old Aram Tatosyan from the Apsheron district.

According to investigators, near the village of Berezanskaya, the alleged criminals noticed Kirill and Tatiana standing on the road on the road. The men decided to kill them in order to steal money and other valuables. They attacked the animators, took away their cards, “gaining access to the possibility of conducting banking operations on them.” Then the suspects withdrew more than 180 thousand rubles from several ATMs. Taking the money, the men killed Cyril and Tatyana. To hide the crime, they burned their car and hid the bodies, the press service of the regional Investigative Committee reported….

On May 3, the Investigative Committee announced the arrest of three suspects in the murder of Kirill and Tatyana – Demyan Kevorkyan, Anatoly Dvoinikov and Aram Tatosyan. According to the Russian Investigative Committee, all three had previous convictions…. The media suggest that they participated in the SMO, but there is no official confirmation of this.

Reader Comments:

One convict, who in 2016 was sentenced to 18 years for a similar murder, teleported out of the colony in some completely unknown way and killed the victims.

The funny thing is that now there will be many such heroes all over the country, which is scary.I don’t understand either, they gave him 18 years and he is free. Everything goes according to plan…


[i] Sviatoslav Hnizdovskyi, “How Strong is Russian public support for the invasion of Ukraine?,” Atlantic Council, 2 May 2023.,public%20backing%20of%20over%2070%25

[ii] For additional background on how the Kremlin has used the media to generate support for its policies, see” Ray Finch, CHAPTER 6. THE MOBILIZATION OF RUSSIAN SOCIETY, THE RUSSIAN MILITARY IN CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVE, 1 September 2019.

[iii]Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the Russian media space had become tightly controlled, especially on matters dealing with national security. For a brief snapshot on some of these restrictive measures, see: Ray Finch, “More Restrictions on Defense Information,” OE Watch, October 2020.; “Russia Moves Forward with New Restrictions on Military Reporting,” OE Watch, November, 2021.

Image Information:

Image: President Putin, Victory Day, Red Square, 9 May 2023.
Attribution: CCA-SA 4.0 Intl