Monday, July 16, 2018

‘Moscow Remains the Only Place of Optimism in Russia,’ Surveys Show

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 16 – Although many in Russia and the West forget it, “Moscow is not Russia,” Pavel Pryanikov says. The economic crisis has in some ways brought the Russian capital and the regions together in common suffering.  But the city in one way stands in complete contrast to the rest of the country: it is today “the only place of optimism in Russia.”

            In part, the editor of the Tolkovtel portal says, this can be explained by the fact that a far higher percentage of Muscovites are employed in government institutions than is the case in the entire rest of the Russian Federation, 36 percent to 27 percent respectively (

            And both this greater role of the state and the optimism it gives rise to explains something else: “Five years ago, Moscow was the epicenter of protests with demands for essential change, but now Moscow is a region with the lowest level of demands for change and the highest support for the government course of strengthening stability.”

            These developments and especially the shift in Moscow as far as protests are concerned is reported in a joint study, The Capitals and Regions of Contemporary Russia: 15 Years Later, conducted by the Moscow Institute of Sociology and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung that has just been published.

            The reason for this divide between Moscow and the regions, the study says, is to be found not only in the much higher incomes of Muscovites compared to all others but also in the fact that the Moscow city government is in a position to provide subsidies of various kinds to residence, something regional governments lack the funds to do.

            That generates both stability and optimism, the study continues; but it is also producing something else: the far greater survival of paternalistic and even archaic social patterns in the capital than in many other places, exactly the reverse of what many have assumed to be the case but a pattern that provides real support for the current regime.

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