Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Forty Million Russians under 25 Overwhelmingly Support Putin Now But May Threaten His Policies Later

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 29 – The 40 million Russians born since 1991 overwhelmingly support Vladimir Putin, but their values, including support for greater personnel freedoms and disbelief in any new cold war, may ultimately undermine the Kremlin leader’s policies if not the Kremlin leader himself.

            According to a commentary on the Profile portal, Russian young people “consider freedom a much more important value than do their parents who choose stability and security,” the promotion of which Putin has made his central task (

            For those born after 1991, Gorbachev and Yeltsin are “no more than figures” figures from the misty past. They have few memories of the difficulties of the 1990s which for many of their parents was the defining decade. Instead, they have grown up in the ever more authoritarian Russia of Vladimir Putin. And they are “his generation,” the portal says.

 The percent of this segment of the population declaring their support for Putin is “approximately as high as among older Russians,” and many of its members are just as drawn to conservative values as are they.  But nonetheless, on many issues, they are very different than their parents – and very different from the values Putin now pushes.

Also, Russian polls suggest, “the overwhelming majority of ‘the Putin generation’ does not believe in the thesis about a new cold war. These people are less affected by propaganda and are convinced that the current problems are connected chiefly with Crimea and Ukraine and that soon or later they will be overcome.”

“Separating Russia from the West is not their choice,” the Profile portal says.

Sociologists from the Levada Center have suggested that it is going to take generations for the Soviet past to be overcome or even that some Soviet values are reproducing themselves among the young. That may or may not prove to be the case either generally or in particular cases, the Profile commentary suggests.

But one thing is clear: “Today almost a third of Russians are younger than 25.” That means that “more than 40 million people were born after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Their political profile is amorphous,” and their views about the future unclear. “But without doubt, their dreams and demands are different from their parents.”

And with each passing year, they are becoming a larger share of the Russian population, while their parents are becoming a smaller one.

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