Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Increasing Desire of Politically Active Young to Emigrate May Save Putin but Destroy Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 4 – The Russian media are focusing on the findings of a new Levada Center poll showing that 41 percent of Russians between 18 and 24 are ready to emigrate because they have lost hope in the future of their country and that almost one in five of all Russians know someone who has left in the last two years.

            But perhaps the most important finding of this poll is one that Kommersant highlights: one in every four Russians who describe themselves as politically active now want to move abroad, a development that will certainly reduce the pressure on Vladimir Putin but at the cost of undermining the country’s future (kommersant.ru/doc/3873384).

            There are compelling reasons for both conclusions.  Moscow analyst Yekaterina Schulmann recently suggested that one of the great advantages of what she calls “hybrid” regimes and one that makes them stable is their willingness to allow those who want to leave to do so (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/02/are-hybrid-regimes-stable-schulmann.html).

            When such people depart, she argues, the regime faces ever less pressure to change because those who might have gone into the streets to oppose it are now living abroad where any protests they make will matter less. Schulmann was speaking about Maduro’s Venezuela. The new Levada poll suggests that she could very well have been speaking about Putin’s Russia.

            But if Putin benefits, Russia does not. When a country deprives its young of hope for the future and hope of any prospect that they will be able to change an unfortunate present for a better future either personally or the country as a whole, that country may not experience turmoil but it will not experience progress either.

            One commentator lamented this situation saying that “the real results of Putin is that half of young Russians are ready to flee the country” implying that in this way as in so many others, the Kremlin leader may have saved himself but at the cost of destroying Russia’s future (rusmonitor.com/realnye-itogi-putina-polovina-molodykh-rossiyan-gotova-bezhat-iz-strany.html).

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