Saturday, August 4, 2018

Russians aren’t Just Angry at Regime: They’re Viewing It in a Whole New Way, Shelin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 4 – The Russian government’s plans to raise the age at which people can take a pension has only accelerated a broader change in the relationship between the population and the regime, Sergey Shelin says. Russians are ever less willing to accept government propaganda and are “losing interest in the triumphs of the leadership.”

According to the latest bulletin of the Bank of Russia, Russians now believe that inflation is more than three times what the government says, that unemployment is higher and that the regime is not doing anything to prevent further increases in the price of gas and other basic goods (

That is evidence of more than a spillover in Russian anger about pensions onto other issues, the Rosbalt commentator says; it is an indication that the unquestioning popular support  the Putin regime has been counting on has slipped away and most likely will not return anytime soon (

Perhaps even more significant for the future, Shelin continues, is that while Russians still believe that Vladimir Putin won a victory over Donald Trump at the Helsinki Summit, they have not given Putin the kind of boost in ratings that such assessments would have led them to in the past.

Russians are “filtering events in a new way,” he says. “Ever actions which they completely back – the World Cup or this summit – today already are doing nothing to reduce popular skepticism about immediate issues of everyday life.   This is a big disappointment for the bosses which since Crimea has been accustomed to a different response.”

The bosses are likely to be even more disappointed in how the population is responding to its declarations and promises.  In contrast to a year or two ago, now 30 to 40 percent of Russians are critical of these thing or express pessimism about the possibility that what the leaders are saying is true or possible. Young people are especially critical.

And all these things mean, Shelin says, that “the very picture of life which the bosses draw passes by the consciousness of their subjects” without the latter accepting it. Instead, they have formed their own view on what reality now is – and that view is increasingly pessimistic and critical.

This doesn’t mean that there is going to be an upsurge in protests anytime soon. No one knows. But the relationship between the powers that be and the people has changed. “The people are not simply angry: anger can weaken. They are looking up with different eyes; and this will be very difficult [for those on top] to change.”

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