Meanwhile, in September the word "mobilization" turned completely from a sociological metaphor to mean a military event.
It seems that apathy seemed to gradually give way to the states described in our four scenarios, yet in the end almost nothing came of it, and no transformation took place. The line between a genuine sense of a "people's war" and its imitation from above is difficult to distinguish even for observers on the ground in Russia, regardless of their ideological predilections.
Depression did not spread across the whole of society but was characteristic of the politically active part, both those radically loyal to and critical of the government. For the latter (they are rarely estimated below 20% or even 30%), the state of depression has persisted throughout the year, with its key feature being a sharp reaction to any signs of a further deterioration in the situation.
As for the radical loyalists, during the September retreat from Kharkov region they were shocked by the loss, as it seemed to them, of their ability to speak on behalf of the majority: the “majority” were celebrating Moscow City Day, did not notice the frontline fiasco and behaved, to use loyalist rhetoric, rather "treacherously."
Society drifted toward aggression to a lesser extent – here the tone was set rather by loyalist media, which focused on the ideas of national exceptionalism, historical revanche and expanding the boundaries of permissible and morally sanctioned violence. Still, this rhetoric did not trigger either sustained enthusiasm or rejection from the average person. In addition, the lowered expectations of a "nuclear apocalypse" that emerged by mid-October were greeted rather with relief – a clear indication that the supporters of a war to complete self-destruction do not have broad support.
As for panic, we can recall at least two episodes when such signs appeared in the masses. In the spring, consumer anxiety prompted Russians to line up for many hours at the stores of global brands leaving Russia. Later, after the announcement of the mobilization in the autumn, a symbol of panic became the multi-day queues at the border, which, judging by license plates, were mostly residents of the proverbial “deep Russia.”
With each of these stress tests, apathy each time returned to its original levels. Its most striking manifestations included the reversion to previous household and consumer behavior in May-July, as well as the declining intensity of public passions after the first wave of the mobilization and even after the loss of military control over Kherson.