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  • Now, since the onset of the war in Ukraine,

  • everyday life in Russia has been marked by repressive controls and new restrictions on public expression.

  • And some people are drawing comparisons with the brutal rule of Joseph Stalin, who came to power in 1924 and whose time in charge saw millions of Russians dying of famine or in prison camps.

  • As our Russia editor Steve Rosenberg reports from Saint Petersburg, there are calls for the Russian people to be reminded of the costs of dictatorship.

  • How many in Russia want to remember the darker chapters of their country's history?

  • Very few.

  • Every year, they gather to remember The Great Terror of the 1930s by reading out the names of Joseph Stalin's victims

  • The million he executed; the millions more sent to prison camps.

  • The Gulag has gone, but fear is returning.

  • Repression is increasing by the week.

  • Local politician Sergey Troshin tells me,

  • "You can feel the fear today in Russian society, and we can feel we're being watched and filmed; hardly undercover surveillance."

  • For critics of the authorities, there are consequences.

  • University lecturer Denis Skopin has just been sacked for immoral behavior.

  • (Having) Been arrested for protesting against mobilization for the war in Ukraine, he'd spent 10 days in jail.

  • But look at the send-off his students gave him on his last day at work.

  • I love my students very much; they understand very well what is happening now in Russia.

  • Denis says that many of his colleaguesacademics and scientistshave fled Russia.

  • Russia is losing the best people now.

  • The most educated, the most energetic, the most critically-thinking people are leaving the country.

  • Where is Russia heading right now?

  • In short, Russia is going in their own direction.

  • And it feels like the past is still casting a shadow over Russia's present and future.

  • History never repeats itself exactly, but there are worrying parallels between Russia's past and present.

  • Under Joseph Stalin, Soviet citizens who fell foul of the authorities were often labeled "enemies of the people".

  • After invading Ukraine, Vladimir Putin vowed to cleanse Russia of what he called "traitors, scum, and the fifth column".

  • To help him do that, President Putin has introduced a new patriotic lesson in Russian schools.

  • It's called "Conversations about What's Important".

  • In this conversation, Putin claims that in Ukraine, Russia is fighting to protect Russia.

  • Critics call it "indoctrination".

  • There are children who just believe they open eyes, and they are ready to believe in everything, and that is very dangerous.

  • Because if there's one thing Russian history teaches us, it is this:

  • That if you believe in everything a leader here says and does without question, that can have tragic consequences.

  • Steve Rosenberg, BBC News, Saint Petersburg.

Now, since the onset of the war in Ukraine,

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