Staunton, February 10 – Many in the Putin regime are now talking about the need for a youth policy, Aleksey Makarkin says; but there is little chance that they can come up with one because their view of the world is so at odds with the one held by the young that each new move is alienating ever more of them.
For the Kremlin, in fact, young people are another and unknown country, the vice president of the Moscow Center for Political Technologies argues. But instead of paying attention to what surveys and studies show, the regime is acting as if its own view can and must be imposed (ej.ru/?a=note&id=35841).
Surveys by Russia’s three leading polling organizations, “whom no one can suspect of reaching an agreement” on what they report, show that young people are more supportive of Aleksey Navalny than their elders, that only 23 percent of them consider themselves Orthodox Christians, and 61 percent are tolerance of sexual minorities.
Those born roughly 20 years ago “have ceased to watch television, take part in social networks, know English at a conversational level, and before the pandemic frequently travelled abroad, Makarkin says. Moreover, the surveys show that “only 18 percent” of those 18 to 30 think Russia is headed in the right direction, while 79 percent consider that it isn’t.
More than their elders, they “more strongly feel the contrast even with the present-day world in which no one speaks about ‘the end of history’ and the inevitable triumph of democracy.” They know otherwise, and those who try to impose these or other views from the past are viewed as out of step and irrelevant.
Importantly, the Moscow analyst continues, the young have “many fewer fears connected with the loss of stability.” The older generation had its vision of the world formed by the shocks of the 1990s. They thus are more prepared to tolerate any moves which are explained as necessary to prevent a return to that past.
Young Russians have not yet had a similar “trauma,” and they are different in another important way as well. For those 40 years old and over, “Kyiv, Minsk, Vilnius and other cities were capitals of union republics.” For those who are younger, these places are capitals of foreign countries. As a result, the lack of the impulse toward revanchism older Russians have.
Those in the Kremlin who think they can drive this generation to accept the values of their parents are simply wrong, Makarkin says. The young will react negatively to all such attempts and most negative of all to those which the regime seeks to impose by force such as by drafting them into the military.
“And the more adults tell young people that they do not understand anything, do not know and do not want to know, the more they will quietly push them further away” because the young already have a sense of superiority over their elders “who couldn’t even master even Zoom during the period of distance instruction.”