Staunton, January 8 – The major policy shifts like pension reform which have driven trust in the powers that be has not yet and is unlikely in the future to spark broad protests in the population, Vladislav Inozemtsev says, because in Russia, “’distrust’ and ‘protest’ in practice do not intersect and are only weakly connected with one another.
At the same time, the Moscow economist says, official actions that target an individual or a small group may not affect trust in officials but have led and will lead to more protest activity across Russia, a paradox but an easily explicable one (openmedia.io/exclusive/pochemu-konflikty-naroda-s-vlastyu-ne-vedut-k-obshherossijskomu-protestu/).
The reason for this pattern, Inozemtsev continues, is that unpopular policies may send the trust of the people in their government down but not send them into the streets because “over recent years, society in the traditional meaning of the word has been destroyed. Any goal we have is achieved easier individually than collectively.”
Not surprisingly, the authorities “consciously support such a situation since it presupposes that one must agree with the authorities, naturally to the profit of the officials.” And that in turn explains why the authorities have not and will not ever make concessions to a broad social movement because to fail to do so is to make such movements “ineffective.”
But what is true for society on the grand scale is not true of smaller groups who are affected by specific state policies. They are prepared to go into the streets and thus has begun “a process of local consolidation.” That isn’t likely anytime soon to lead to an “all-national” protest, “but it will seriously complicate the lives of local officials.”
Because that is so, Inozemtsev says, observers should “focus in the coming year on these narrowly based protests and not on abstract dissatisfaction or disappointment.” In short, there will be a wave of protests in the coming months, but they will be specific to a sector and region, something the Kremlin can live with even if the level of public trust in it falls still further.