Staunton, June 11 – For the last few years, many have suggested that there is a battle going on between what Russians see on television and what they no longer see in their refrigerators. Until recently, it seems clear, their views were shaped more by television broadcasts that by slim pickings in the refrigerator.
But now, a new VTsIOM poll suggests, that may be changing with the refrigerator now besting the television in that Russians say a high standard of living is a better indication of whether a country is a great power than the size and strength of its military (wciom.ru/index.php?id=236&uid=115728 and slon.ru/posts/69277).
Thirty-seven percent of Russians say that “for greatness a country must have a developed contemporary economy” compared to 26 percent who say that “powerful armed forces” are sufficient. That is a major change from 2014. At that time, only 25 percent said economic well-being was the more important marker while 42 percent pointed to the military as key.
This shift undoubtedly reflects the extent to which Russians are suffering as a result of the economic crisis brought about by the collapse of oil prices, sanctions and counter-sanctions after Moscow invaded Ukraine, and the decline in the ruble exchange rate against Western currencies.