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Russian Public Appears to Be Souring on War Casualties, Analysis Shows – UnlistedNews

At the start of the war, some US officials predicted that public support for Russia’s President Vladimir V. Putin would erode as the war progressed and economic sanctions deepened, potentially putting pressure on him to end the conflict. But that has not happened. Support for the war remains strong in Russia. It started to dip slightly in early March, only to pick up around the country’s May 9 Victory Day celebrations, according to FilterLabs analysis.

Still, US officials say that while Russian public opinion has been hard to track precisely, they also believe that the cracks in support have begun to show in recent months.

Polls in Russia, or any other authoritarian country, are an imprecise measure of opinion because respondents will often tell pollsters what they think the government wants to hear. Pollsters often ask questions indirectly to try to get more honest answers, but they remain difficult to measure accurately.

FilterLabs attempts to address this shortcoming by constantly collecting data from small, local internet forums, social media companies, and messaging apps to determine public sentiment. It’s also looking for platforms where Russians can feel more free to express honest opinions, said Jonathan Teubner, CEO of FilterLabs.

FilterLabs has worked with Ukrainian groups to try to gauge their ability to influence Russian opinion. The company’s work is more useful for gauging the direction of sentiment, rather than a snapshot. As with any attempt to gauge public opinion, sentiment analysis is imperfect, includes multiple sources of potential bias, and represents only one organization’s analysis.

FilterLabs uses native Russian speakers to help detect normal colloquial speech characteristics, improving the algorithm’s ability to detect nuances of language, such as sarcasm and irony. The company also tries to identify known sources of propaganda on such forums and track them separately.

Concern over high casualties early in the war eroded support for Putin, prompting propaganda campaigns by the Kremlin. But that loss of support was only for a short time, and the public once again rallied behind the government, according to FilterLabs.

The situation looks a little different now.

Kremlin-aligned media outlets appear to be trying to counter the growing concern, publishing articles that are more optimistic about the number of Russian casualties, FilterLabs found. But the state-controlled media appears to have a limited effect on opinion so far this year, Teubner said.

US officials warn that while the Russians appear to be aware of the large number of casualties, that knowledge has so far not led to less support for the war or for Putin. But, one official said, the recent casualties could be different.

As the war progressed, battlefield reverses became less shocking to the Russians. So a single event has a hard time changing general support for the war, Teubner said.

But over time, if concern about casualties continues, support for the war is likely to wane. “Despite efforts to reverse Russian attitudes by Kremlin-aligned information sources,” Teubner said, “the reality of casualties remains one of the Kremlin’s biggest vulnerabilities.”


Sara Marcus
Sara Marcushttps://unlistednews.com
Meet Sara Marcus, our newest addition to the Unlisted News team! Sara is a talented author and cultural critic, whose work has appeared in a variety of publications. Sara's writing style is characterized by its incisiveness and thought-provoking nature, and her insightful commentary on music, politics, and social justice is sure to captivate our readers. We are thrilled to have her join our team and look forward to sharing her work with our readers.


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