Russian conscripts in Omsk, Russia, November 2022
Alexey Malgavko / Reuters

In late September, following devastating Russian setbacks in Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s controversial “partial mobilization” of the Russian population, the Kremlin faced an explosion of popular discontent on social media. Notably, some of the most vocal criticism came from the government’s core supporters: ultranationalists and military hard-liners who felt that Russia was not fighting as well as it should. By the beginning of October, the recriminations were coming close to Putin’s own circle, with Ramzan Kadyrov, the notoriously brutal head of Chechnya, issuing a long diatribe on Telegram, the messaging app. According to Kadyrov, a

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