Saturday, March 13, 2021

Ever More Russians Say Regime Cares Only about Its Own Enrichment and Doesn’t Consider Their Needs, Lev Gudkov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 11 – Between 2019 and now, the share of Russians who say the Putin regime doesn’t take into consideration their needs and aspirations has risen from 69 percent to 75 percent, but the share in some groups has increased far more dramatically, Levada Center head Lev Gudkov says.

            Among the more educated and professionally advanced, this attitude has increased more; but attitudes among this group are now spreading to other parts of the population. The same thing is happening with young people aged 25 to 39 whose attitudes toward the powers are now affecting those just younger or just older than they (

            And while overall, the shifts have been relatively small, taken together, they underscore “the growth of alienation from the authorities and are signs of its delegitimization,” the sociologist continues. And they reenforce the longstanding belief among most Russians that “the powers and the people always had, have and will have different goals and interests.”

            According to Gudkov, “the structure of mass consciousness over roughly the last 30 years since perestroika, the beginning of reforms and political changes in the country has remained practically unchanged: the dominant attitude toward the powers is resentment, chronic dissatisfaction that the state has left unsatisfied the population’s paternalistic expectations.”

            Such expectations have proved very stable, not only among those who learned them in Soviet times but among younger groups who believed the Russian authorities would improve their lives up to the level in Western countries and among pupils and students who are most affected by the messages of teachers that the regime will do what they expect.

            Gudkov says that Russians view those in power as distant from themselves, as unrepresentative of themselves and concerned only about satisfying their own selfish ambitions and remaining power. They further believe that those in power lie and hide the way in which they are illegally acquiring good things for themselves.

            Over the last 10 years, only four percent of Russians on average say that senior officials are behaving according to the law when it comes to their incomes, a figure that declined only to three percent during the euphoria of the Crimean consensus but has now returned to its traditional level.

             “The absolute majority consider,” Gudkov continues, “that the senior leadership of the country distorts its incomes, lies, conceals its property and shares, and transfers them to relatives” and friends to do so. “People are certain” that those at the top feel they can do whatever they want with impunity.

            This attitude is not only long-standing but widespread, he says. The differences among most social groups is so small as to be within the margin of error. “The only exception and it is not that significant” is the one between Muscovites and everyone else, with the former about five percentage points more likely to think ill of those above them than do others.

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