Staunton, December 19 – Despite Krasnodar Governor Aleksandr Tkachev’s suggestion that Russians must share responsibility for the current crisis and President Vladimir Putin’s statement that all Russians are in it together, only one Russian in nine feels responsible for what the Kremlin has done, according to a new Levada Center poll.
Fifty-seven percent of the respondents told the sociologists that they “do not feel any responsibility for what is happening in Russia,” and another 27 percent say that they do not feel any “significant” responsibility for that. Only 11 percent say that they are significantly responsible for what is happening (newizv.ru/politics/2014-12-19/212175-u-nas-strana-poddannyh-a-ne-grazhdan.html#top).
What is most striking about that figure is that the share of Russians who feel responsible now is only half the figure it was when Putin first took office, the result of the dramatic demobilization of the population as the Russian president has put in place his ever more authoritarian “power vertical” which makes decisions independent of the people.
According to Boris Makarenko of the Moscow Center for Political Technologies, Russia today is “a country of subjects but not of citizens.” But as he points out, “this is an issue not only for Russians but also for the Russian authorities. Because responsibility means not only that you will support the steps of the government but also that you have the right to participate in the politics of this state, that your voice and your right means something.”
That requires democracy and only where it is present will there be a feeling of responsibility among citizens, he says. And he points out that the annexation of Crimea was not something society decided upon but rather only has supported since the Kremlin took the lead in carrying it out.
Now, he continues, Russia’s leaders are adopting the classical position of Russian noblemen toward their serfs: We’ve done something about which you must both be proud of and pay for.