Saturday, December 2, 2017

Putin’s Telescreen Losing Its Grip on Russian Population

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 1 – Over the last seven years, the percentage of Russians who watch television and rely on it for news and entertainment has fallen from 63 percent to 29 percent overall, according to a new VTsIOM survey. Instead, ever more of them are turning to the Internet, with the share doing so having risen from five percent in 2005 to 21 percent now.

            Differences among various age cohorts are striking. Only eight percent of young people aged 18 to 24 now watch television, with 44 percent of them use the Internet. Among pensioners, however, 56 percent still watch television, while only a small share go online (

                Given the centrality of television for Vladimir Putin’s efforts to boost his authority, these declines mean that the Kremlin’s “telescreen” may no longer have the impact that it did earlier; and the findings about the rise of Internet use are certain to help power more official efforts to limit access to websites the Kremlin doesn’t like.

            But given the difficulties of doing so, the Putin regime is likely to discover that it can no longer count on television in the ways that it has up to now. And that in turn means that the Russian political system has changed and will change more as the pensioners pass from the scene and the younger generation becomes a larger share of the population as a result.

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