Staunton, April 17 – The massive participation of young Russians in the March 26 anti-corruption demonstrations led many Russian and Western analysts to predict that the rise of a generation born or at least grown up after the end of the Soviet Union will have a profound and positive impact on the future of Russia.
But a new survey by the Public Opinion Foundation suggests that such expectations may be wrong because it reports that “young Russians love Putin, state ownership and socialism” more than their elders who can remember Soviet times, Anatoly Komrakov reports in Nezavisimaya gazeta today (ng.ru/economics/2017-04-17/4_6975_youth.html).
Indeed, the journalist writes, “the political and economic views of young Russians will be a surprise for many.” Those aged 17 to 34 favor socialist values more than liberal ones by 28 to 20 percent, and 73 percent of this cohort favor state ownership of major enterprises. Only 17 percent believe they should be privately held.
At the same time, young people in Russia are far more inclined to say that “Russia now is moving in the correct direction” (69 percent) than are their elders, only 33 percent of whom agree with that statement, according to a recent Levada Center poll. And perhaps most striking of all, only 18 percent of young Russians say the country is moving in the wrong direction.
The same polling agency last October found that as young people age, they become less positive about the government and less interested in politics. Then, “only a third of the young were interested in politics.” For those aged 18 to 22, 64 percent said they weren’t interested in politics. Those aged 28 to 30, in contrast, said they didn’t follow politics.
Most young people don’t have any heroes among the adult population. Only 30 percent of those asked about said they did and listed Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the top, a group that may have more to do with name recognition than with anything else.