Staunton, July 12 – Vladimir Putin is “part of the worldwide ultra-conservative trend,” a reaction of the rural “backwoods caught in the middle of the 20th century against the world metropolis which lives in the 21st,” Igor Eidman says. But in contrast to the situation in Europe and the US, the rural population has a different enemy.
“The chief enemy for the Russian backwoods in contrast to the American and European is not immigrants, people of different faiths, liberals, gays or leftists who have destroyed the traditional patriarchal provincial world but rather the Moscow elite” of whom Putin is viewed as the leader (rusmonitor.com/igor-ehjjdman-obe-nogi-putinskogo-rezhima-stoyat-na-shatkojj-poverkhnosti-strategicheski-on-ne-mozhet-operetsya-ni-na-megapolisy-ni-na-glubinku.html).
Evidence of this is that in recent times, the most active protests have taken place mainly in the regions,” Eidman says. “Of course, illusions of the kind that ‘the boyars are bad but the tsar is good’ still exist” there, and the falsification of elections especially in rural areas hides the erosion of the position of Putin and the party of power outside Moscow.
But recent polling data by the Belanovsky team suggests that “the regions are gradually escaping from such ideas (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/05/new-civic-culture-emerging-in-russia.html). And that means, the Russian sociologist continues, that Putin can’t rely on the people who support right-wing leaders.
None is backed by the cities – Erdogan can’t win in Istanbul or Ankara, and Trump is disliked far more in California and New York than in Kansas or Oklahoma – but these leaders are still able to count on “the backwaters.” That Putin no longer can – and he is increasingly disdained in the major cities as well – will profoundly affect Russian politics in the near term.