'Russia is heading for a catastrophe'

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg travels 2,000 miles east of Moscow to gauge the mood of ordinary Russians.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- It is the eternal Russian question. Where is this country going?

VASILY SLONOV: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

- I think that just people are afraid.

- Wherever we go, we're being watched. [SPEAKING RUSSIAN] With the president's most vocal critic in jail, a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine, in what direction is Russia moving?

I'm in Krasnoyarsk. And this part of Siberia is the geographical center of Russia. And I've come here because after all the drama Russia has seen already this year, I want to gauge the mood 2,000 miles East of Moscow and try to get a sense of where Russia is heading. Artist Vasily Slonov sees things in Vladimir Putin few others do.

VASILY SLONOV: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

- Vasily believes that President Putin has perfected the art of holding on to power.

VASILY SLONOV: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

- Patriotic chimes. A sign of the times. Instead of political change, the Kremlin's encouraging national pride and suspicion of the West.

In Krasnoyarsk, we're being watched everywhere we go each step of the way. Every day we spot the same cars on our tail. OK, there it is again. The same number plate.

The fact that we're being followed shows just how nervous the Russian authorities are, how sensitive they are to potential criticism about what's happening here, and also how suspicious they are of the West. And so one of the cars that's been following us has just pulled up here. We're going to try and have a little chat.

[SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

He says, we're just imagining it. He says he's not following us. It's just our imagination. That's not true.

KSENIYA ANDREYEVA: Terrible prices.

- Kseniya Andreyeva wishes that rising food prices were just her imagination.

KSENIYA ANDREYEVA: Oh, vegetable oil. The price is terrible now.

- But that's the reality.

KSENIYA ANDREYEVA: I think the standard of living goes down. So and I have to find more basic food.

- For kseniya, it's family first.

KSENIYA ANDREYEVA: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

- Roma is her priority. So she and her husband avoid politics. They don't go to street protests. Few Russians do. But that doesn't mean people are content.

KSENIYA ANDREYEVA: I think that just people are afraid because if your director finds that you went there and--

- To a protest?

KSENIYA ANDREYEVA: Yeah, and maybe you were jailed, sometimes you can lose your job. People just afraid.

- Do you think you have the power to change something in your country?

KSENIYA ANDREYEVA: No, I don't think so.

- When you look into the future, what kind of a Russia would you like your son to live in?

KSENIYA ANDREYEVA: I would like Russia to be more free. But I don't believe that anything will change in the nearest future.

- Some things in Russia change, like the seasons. At Krasnoyarsk Zoo, they're celebrating spring with a feast.

ANDREI GORBAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

- The pancakes and not for us, though. They're all for him, Ruffian the brown bear. To many Russians, the end of winter brings hope that life will get better.

ANDREI GORBAN: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

- Communism promised Russians the bright future. Vladimir Putin's Kremlin pledges only stability and some doubt that his increasingly authoritarian system can provide even that.

VASILY SLONOV: [SPEAKING RUSSIAN]

- The overriding feeling I guess about Russia is one of uncertainty. And that's of global concern because the direction Russia takes has consequences for the whole world.