Staunton, August 5 – Russians now view the Brezhnev era in more positive ways than they do the Putin regime today, with roughly a quarter saying that it was closer to the people, strong, firm and justice and somewhat more saying that the current powers that be are corrupt, alien, bureaucratic, and short-sighted, according to a new Levada Center poll.
Putin’s relatively high ratings are regularly used to suggest that the Russian people are united in their positive assessment of the situation, the center’s sociologists say; but the new poll suggests that when Russians are offered almost any alternative, they see it as preferable to what they have now (levada.ru/2019/08/05/obrazy-vlasti-sovetskoj-i-nyneshnej/).
That explains why the Kremlin has worked so hard and up to now successfully to suggest that there is “no alternative” to Putin. And indeed, the Levada Center survey finds that no other Russian political figure today attracts much support. However, when asked to compare Putin with past Russian leaders, he does not come off as well.
The sociologists report another factor working for Putin and against his opponents: more than 80 percent of Russians say that ordinary people can’t affect political outcomes and more than 60 percent don’t believe that elections will do so either. As a result, most remain alienated from political life (newsru.com/russia/05aug2019/vlast.html).
According to the Levada Center poll, “only one or two percent of Russians say that they will take an active part” in political life and only 42 to 44 percent indicate they follow political events closely. But a majority – 54 to 57 percent – say they aren’t interested in politics at all
Such depoliticization of the Russian population as a whole gives the incumbent regime real advantages even if the wave of protests, which after all involve only a miniscule portion of Russian residents, continues to grow. And that more than any affection for Brezhnev’s times is the real message of these poll results.