Officially the so-called “special operation” is widely supported by the Russian government, but the Kremlin is still worried about dissent. Open criticism of the war, which Putin has said was necessary to defeat Nazis, is banned and talk of casualties is suppressed.
The Kremlin has tightened up its messaging, pushing the Z logo of the main battle group in Ukraine on pro-war posters and T-shirts and broadcasting wall-to-wall support for the invasion on state-run TV.
But this would represent a significant escalation of Russian state control and has parallels with Stalin’s use of a network of informers and political commissars in the military and government ministries to get people on side and inform on dissenters.
Kommersant, which quoted three people who work in the Russian Presidential Administration or close to it, reported that the idea of “political officers” had been floated at a meeting last year because “problems with loyalty to the current power axis” had been identified and that the war had increased urgency to implement the plan.
And the newspaper also quoted a source at a state-owned company explaining how it was being rolled out.
“Each of its divisions has recently appointed a person responsible for informing employees about activities in support of the Russian army, and installations for the placement of various visual content are descending from the head office for this,” the source said.