July 6, 2022
  • Reddit customers have flooded the “Ask a Russian” discussion board with questions on life in Russia as we speak. 
  • Some posts have blamed Russians for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, sparking feuds. 
  • Customers advised Insider they take pleasure in discussing the conflict on Reddit however need folks to be extra “respectful.”

A Reddit neighborhood referred to as “Ask A Russian” has seen a dramatic uptick in feedback and posts because the Russian authorities’s invasion of Ukraine in February, and a few customers argue that the discussions are unproductive and offensive to Russian folks. 

r/AskARussian is a subreddit with 71,000 members. It was created in 2013 with the unique goal of permitting folks to attach with Russian residents and ask questions on Russian tradition. 

Whereas posts from lower than a 12 months in the past sometimes requested about Russian meals, regional accents, and memes, posts from the previous few weeks are asking Russians how the present battle and sanctions are affecting their lives, and even blaming them for supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

A screenshot from the subreddit

A Reddit consumer asking how sanctions have affected life in Russia

“Ask a Russian” by way of Reddit

Reddit has been a preferred however controversial house for dialogue in regards to the Ukrainian battle. In line with Mashable, the “r/Russia,” subreddit was quarantined by the platform, which means it will not seem in searches as a result of it was deemed to be spreading misinformation. 

Longstanding members of the “Ask a Russian” subreddit advised Insider that whereas the neighborhood was once an area for appreciating Russian tradition, it has now been “hijacked” by non-Russians who’re utilizing the discussion board to insult or strain Russian folks to take motion in opposition to Russia’s authorities. 

Customers say Russian voices have been drowned out, defeating the aim of the subreddit 

From January to March 2022, the variety of feedback within the “Ask a Russian” subreddit has risen from round 300 to greater than 6,000 a day. The variety of day by day posts has additionally risen, from round 25 to a peak of 325 in early March. 

Subreddit member “Bpmtapperkun,” who didn’t wish to be named, advised Insider that after the invasion, “there was a surge of recent customers who hadn’t adopted the subreddit earlier than,” and who wished to speak in regards to the conflict.

“I personally felt they have been extra fascinated about guilt-tripping the Russian folks than genuinely asking about their perspective,” he mentioned.

Screenshot from the subreddit

A consumer telling Russians they’re “liked.”

“Ask a Russian” by way of Reddit

Some standard feedback in the neighborhood appear to indicate solidarity with Russian folks, whereas others fervently urge Russians to take motion or protest in opposition to Putin. 

Victor, a member of the subreddit for a 12 months and a half, who wished to be recognized by first title just for privateness causes, shouldn’t be Russian himself, however advised Insider he’s seen that posts by Russian folks don’t are likely to get as many upvotes as they did earlier than, which means they don’t seem as prominently in the neighborhood feed. Because of this, he mentioned that almost all posts on the high of the feed are from non-Russians, and the voices of Russian individuals are not being adequately heard. 

Screenshot from the subreddit

The shift within the nature of posts was known as a “latest growth” by one consumer.

“Ask a Russian” by way of Reddit.

As somebody with an curiosity in Russian tradition, Victor mentioned, “It’s actually annoying happening the subreddit as a result of I am going there hoping to seek out details about the state of affairs in Russia from Russian folks. As a substitute, I now should sift by means of an overabundance of nonsense from Westerners who take it upon themselves to reply questions for the Russians.” 

Many posts are brazenly hostile to Russian folks, a few of whom say they’ve felt demoralized

One publish in the neighborhood with 45 feedback however with zero upvotes accuses Russian folks of committing “genocide” in opposition to Ukrainian folks, seemingly referring to the truth that Ukraine has formally accused Russia of committing genocide earlier than the Worldwide Court docket of Justice. 

Many feedback underneath the publish are from Russian individuals who say the assertion is unfaithful, suggesting bizarre Russian folks don’t want conflict with Ukraine. In Russia, hundreds of residents have taken to the streets to protest the conflict, and on social media, Russian influencers are utilizing their platforms to voice opposition to the invasion. 

A number of Russian customers have made posts in the neighborhood, asking “Western” Reddit customers to cease making accusations in opposition to “bizarre Russians,” who they are saying don’t have anything to do with the federal government’s actions. These posts every have tons of of upvotes.

A screenshot from the subreddit

A purported Russian consumer mentioned folks have been utilizing the discussion board to “assault” Russians.

“Ask a Russian” by way of Reddit

Dmitry, a 21-year-old Russian member of the neighborhood, who wished to be recognized by first title just for privateness causes, advised Insider that critics within the subreddit “suppose that each one Russians help this conflict and every of us voted for Putin, which is ridiculous.” Voting knowledge from the 2021 Russian election confirmed that round 50% of Russian voters didn’t vote for Putin, and the election itself was riddled with claims of fraud and ballot-box stuffing. 

screenshot form the subreddit

A purported Russian consumer asking folks responsible the conflict on the “authorities.”

“Ask a Russian” by way of Reddit.

Dmitri advised Insider he thinks adverse feedback have gone too far and moderators within the group ought to ban discussions in regards to the invasion as a result of this was not what the group was supposed for. The moderators of the subreddit didn’t instantly reply to Insider’s request for remark. 

Members of the neighborhood proceed to debate political occasions on social media to facilitate open dialog

Despite the vital feedback and arguments on this subreddit, most contributors Insider spoke to mentioned they nonetheless imagine Reddit is a productive place to have conversations about politics and world occasions. 

Lots of them mentioned they like social media to conventional sources of data like broadcast information. They mentioned they don’t belief media retailers to precisely painting the Russian perspective, so flip to boards like “Ask a Russian” to listen to first-hand accounts of the battle. 

A screenshot from the subreddit

Some posts within the subreddit seem to create real discussions.

“Ask a Russian” by way of Reddit

It echoes an ongoing development for turning to social media for “genuine,” first-hand accounts of the conflict.

Dmitry advised Insider that Russian folks like him might not thoughts sharing first-hand data on-line so long as conversations are extra “respectful and informative.” He mentioned he needs to proceed to speak about his expertise on Reddit as a result of “the important thing to discovering fact and understanding is definitely to speak to folks.” 

For extra tales like this, try protection from Insider’s Digital Tradition staff right here. 

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