Russian opposition members and World Cup mania
The exuberant mood during the World Cup tournament and the unexpected victories of the Russian team have left many Russians in a state of euphoria. Those who oppose the government have been plunged into a moral dilemma over the question of whether Russia's football fever automatically turns them into Putin fans.
To love Russia doesn't mean loving the Kremlin
In a commentary posted on Facebook Ilya Yashin, an opposition politician based in Moscow, argues that nationalist sentiment must be separate from politics:
“It's okay to rabidly support your national team in the World Cup. That doesn't make you complicit to the crimes of the top-ranking civil servants. ... It's also okay to walk the streets waving the national flag and shouting your country's name. That doesn't make you a fan of those in power. Loving your country doesn't mean that you also have to love your government and the president. ... There's an astounding similarity between the most radical opposition activists and the minions of the state power: both equate the homeland with those in power. ... But that's not how it is. Governments come and go, but the country stays.”
World Cup euphoria could end in fascism
Economics professor Sergei Medvedev counters in Echo of Moscow that the World Cup is anything but a harmless celebration:
“The World Cup has become a milestone on the way to a post-Crimea Russia, in that it legitimises the regime - also in the eyes of the world - by ridding Russia of its image as a 'toxic power'. ... With it the 'normalisation' of Crimea and late Putinism will be completed. ... Despite the fact that the World Cup is still only in the last-16 stage. What if Russia reaches the finals? Will Cossacks and militias ransack houses in search of those who are not watching television, who haven't painted the Russian tricolour on their cheeks, and whose posts on the game aren't filled with emojis and capital letters? Fascism doesn't just consist in banning people from speaking their mind but also in forcing them to say certain things.”