This winter, comfort and joy feel in short supply in Chita. But there’s patriotism aplenty. Outside the local concert hall, a stylised metal snowman is holding a Russian tricolour. On Lenin Square, the decorated fir tree shares centre stage with big signs bearing the letter “Z” – the symbol of the Kremlin’s “special military operation” in Ukraine. Watch the news on Chita TV, and you’ll see reports about local schoolchildren writing festive letters – not to Father Christmas, but to Russian soldiers in Ukraine.