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In Russia, a Cat Thrown From a Train Offers a Safe Space to Vent

WorldIn Russia, a Cat Thrown From a Train Offers a Safe Space to Vent

The tragedy gripped Russia for days. Federal lawmakers convened a special committee and an investigation was launched, as hundreds of volunteers searched for the victim in subzero temperatures, and state news media ran live updates on the fallout.

Eventually, the victim — Twix the cat — was found dead.

A national outcry over the demise of a pet who was mistakenly thrown from a long-distance train by an attendant has highlighted both the limits of and the demand for an emotional outlet in wartime Russia.

A national poll found that about two out of three Russians were familiar with Twix, a very high proportion in a country where people increasingly tune out negative news, like the war in Ukraine, according to Denis Volkov, director of the country’s largest independent pollster, the Levada Center, which conducted the survey.

A combination of propaganda, a crackdown on dissent and public fatigue with the inconclusive war has turned internet curiosities into a focus of national attention for days, even weeks. Last month, a video of a Russian influencer tossing his 2-month-old baby in a snowbank in an apparent stunt received thousands of comments, the majority of them negative, and led to a criminal investigation.

Part catharsis, part political theater, events like Twix’s death are providing Russians with rare opportunities to vent and bond with like-minded people without running afoul of the police or censors.

Twix the cat.Credit…Edgar Gaifullin

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