Russian businesses have petitioned the Kremlin to authorize six-day weeks as part of a “Soviet-style” call for work to support the Ukraine war, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defense (MoD).
The intelligence update shared on Sunday said the tone of debate in Russia has shifted away from hitting out at those who criticize the war and toward mandating citizens to make sacrifices to support it.
It added: “Russian state-backed media and business groups have petitioned the Economic Ministry to authorize a six-day week for workers in the face of the economic demands of the war, apparently without additional pay.
“On 21 May 2023, leading Russian propagandist Margarita Simonyan mooted that citizens should work for two extra hours in munitions factories each day, after their regular jobs.”
It added: “The evolving tone of the conversations clearly echoes a Soviet-style sense of societal compulsion. It also highlights how the leadership highly likely identifies economic performance as a decisive factor in winning the war.”
Soviet leaders introduced a six-day week during the early years of the communist state’s existence.
The six-day week meant citizens would work five days in a row and have one day off rather than two. But the project was deemed a failure and the previous two-day weekend system was reinstated in June 1940 after 11 years of experimentation.
Polls in Russia have found many in the country continue to support the armed forces.
An April survey by Russian pollster the Levada Center found that 43 percent of citizens said they “definitely support” the country’s armed forces while 32 percent said they “rather support.” Only 16 percent stated they “do not support.”
When asked to explain their support, 19 percent of respondents said “it is necessary to support our own and 16 percent believed it was in order to ensure the security of Russia. Other reasons given were to “destroy the fascists” and to protect “citizens in Donbas.”
The Levada Center survey of 1,623 people aged 18 and over from urban and rural areas of Russia was carried out between April 20 and 26. The Atlantic Council, an American international affairs think tank, described the Levada Center as Russia’s only legitimate independent pollster.
There is growing vocal concern among some Russian commentators about Vladimir Putin’s handling of the war despite claims of success in the battle for Bakhmut.
Former Russian commander Igor Girkin has claimed the country will face a “mutiny” from the Wagner Group and its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Prigozhin, who has been openly critical of the Kremlin, stated his fighters would withdraw from Bakhmut by June 1, handing over “positions, ammunition, everything including dry rations” to troops with the Russian military.
Girkin, a Russian nationalist and former commander of separatist forces in the occupied Donbas region of Ukraine, said Prigozhin was laying the ground for a “mutiny” and to carry out a “coup” against the Kremlin with Wagner mercenary forces.
Newsweek has contacted the Kremlin for comment via email.