Thursday, October 18, 2018

Putin Youth Have Fallen in Love with the West but Not with Democracy, Levada Expert Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 17 – Putin’s “Generation Z” love the West but not democracy and because of their numbers assume that they won’t be able to change things in Russia and are thus even less inclined to support the opposition of take part in demonstrations, according to Denis Volkov of the Levada Center.

            In a presentation this week which the Tolkovatel portal has summarized, the sociologist said that at the same time, Russia’s youngest generation is not especially interested in joining the government bureaucracy. Instead, they want to be freelancers or businessmen (

            One of the clearest and most distinctive features of the views of Russians under 24 is their sympathy for the US and the West in general. Some 60 percent of this cohort express that view, putting them at odds with their elders.  Its members are also less supportive of Putin than those who are older, only 38 percent as opposed to 55 percent.

            Three quarters of young people rely on the Internet, 40 percent more than older groups, and turn to it rather than to television. “Nonetheless,” Volkov added, “the Internet does not influence the political behavior of this age group.”  They are even less inclined to protest than are those somewhat older and less linked in to the web.

            They are also less likely to take part in elections – only 40 percent of young people voted in elections, about half the share of those over 65.  It isn’t that they support the opposition but rather than they lack any interest in politics. More than half are optimistic about the future, partially because they are still supported by their parents.

            No more than half, Volkov said, are focused on the need for change. They see Germany as a model state given Berlin’s commitment to meeting social needs; but they list China as the second foreign model, an indication that they are quite ready to support authoritarian methods in political life.

            Only one in seven young Russians – 14 percent – discuss politics with their friends and coworkers; and large percentages of them simply can’t discuss any important historical development sin Russia like Stalin’s repressions or even Gorbachev’s Perestroika.  Only seven percent identify themselves as Putin supporters while 74 percent say they are apolitical.

            Compared to those slightly older than themselves, Generation Z members are less inclined to talk about moving abroad. Among them in fact, “only one in three” knows a foreign language, a share that is “not much more than among middle-aged Russians.” Overwhelmingly, they are ready to make a show of loyalty to the existing regime while pursuing their own lives.

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