Staunton, October 18 – Something important has happened in Russian public opinion over the last few months: the most anti-Putin age cohort is now those aged 18 to 30 and not those 31 to 45, a shift the Kremlin clearly does not understand and believes that the only option it has is to try to intimidate them because it has nothing to offer that they want, Sergey Shelin says.
The Putin regime certainly feels, the Rosbalt commentator says, that “in the eyes of those who are under 30, it looks like a perversion. However, it cannot offer such people anything besides militarization and repression,” things that may intimidate some but are certain to infuriate others (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2019/10/18/1808588.html).
This lack of understanding is not so much the result of the rise of a gerontocracy in Russia as happened in Brezhnev’s times, Shelin says. Instead, “the system now is old not so much because of the age of its typical representatives as because of its spirit of aggressive archaic ideas which they are imposing on those who have grown up already in this century.”
As a result, like many parents confronted by the behavior of their children, Russia’s current rulers simply do not understand “with this essential difference: for them, these children really are alien, and therefore there are no causes to treat them by standing on ceremony,” the analyst continues.
Until recently, those most critical of the regime were people aged 31 to 45. Younger people were more inclined to look at the leaders “with somewhat greater optimism … But in recent months, a shift has taken place.” Those 31 to 45 have not become less critical, but those 18 to 30 have become far more so.
The powers that be are responsible for this shift, Shelin argues, because they have acted n ways that offend young people’s sense of “dignity, honor and justice” in their treatment of Moscow demonstrators. “It is sufficient to look at how the atmosphere in the higher educational institutions has changed” to recognize this new reality.
The regime really can’t accept that this change has occurred, however, although it des recognize that it has nothing to offer young people besides propagandistic films and television programs and knows that this may not be enough to turn things around. Consequently, it has decided to try to frighten young people into silence by becoming even more repressive.
That may in fact make things worse, Shelin says, adding that he won’t predict whether it will even have the effect of shutting up the young. It certainly may not make them more favorably inclined too the regime because forcing people t keep quiet won’t convince them of anything except what they already believe abut to the powers that be.
Moreover, the Rosbalt commentator concludes, even if the regime wins in the shrt term, it will lose in the longer one because its members will pass from the scene and thus eventually yield to those who now oppose it.