The war is background noise in Moscow, but it’s always present.
Metro trains are running smoothly in Moscow, as usual, but getting around the city center by car has become more complicated, and annoying, because anti-drone radar interferes with navigation apps.
There are well-off Muscovites ready to buy Western luxury cars, but there are not enough available. And while a local election for mayor took place as it normally would this month, many of the city’s residents decided not to vote, with the result seemingly predetermined (a landslide win by the incumbent).
Almost 19 months after Russia invaded Ukraine, Muscovites are experiencing dual realities: The war has faded into background noise, causing few major disruptions, and yet it remains ever-present in their daily lives.
There is little anxiety among residents over the drone strikes that have hit Moscow this summer, no alarm sirens to warn of a possible attack. When flights are delayed because of drone threats in the area, the explanation is usually the same as the one plastered on signs at the shuttered luxury boutiques of Western designers: “technical reasons.”
“We continue to work, to live and to raise our children,” said Anna, 41, as she walked by a sidewalk memorial marking the death of Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.
But for some, the effects of war are landing harder.
Nina, 79, a pensioner who was shopping at an Auchan supermarket in northwestern Moscow, said that she had stopped buying red meat entirely and that she could almost never afford to buy a whole fish.
“Just right now, in September, the prices rose tremendously,” she said.
When asked about the biggest problems facing Russia, more than half the respondents in a recent poll by the independent Levada Center cited price increases. The war, known in Russia as the “special military operation,” came in second, with 29%, tied with “corruption and bribery.”
“In principle, everything is getting more expensive,” said Aleksandr, 64, who said he worked as an executive director in a company.
Aleksei A. Venediktov, who headed the liberal Echo of Moscow radio station before the Kremlin shut it down last year, said that the government had engineered the war’s absence from political spaces.
Venediktov said that even if changes on Moscow’s surface were hard to see and increasingly harder to discuss, people were truly transforming inside.
“People are starting to return to the Soviet practice, when public conversations can lead to trouble at work,” he said. “It’s like toxic poisoning — a very slow process.”
文／Valerie Hopkins 譯／高詣軒
Well-off/rich/wealthy皆形容富裕，也可用well-to-do。Well-off有跟其他人相比的意味：children from well-off families；the new rich是暴發戶，有貶義。Wealthy和rich差別在於前者有錢的時間比較久。Well-to-do常用於書寫，替代rich，過去特指社經地位高的家庭：Only well-to-do families could afford to send their children to university.
Mercenary（傭兵）是可數名詞，形容詞指「唯利是圖的」。英國作家路易斯（C.S. Lewis）寫道：Heaven offers nothing that a mercenary soul can desire.
Engineer（工程師）當動詞時，意指以巧妙或祕密方式安排處理某個狀況或事件，有時含貶義：She had no idea that her downfall had been engineered by her deputy.