Staunton, July 16 – Over the past several years, many commentators have pointed to the fact that the center of gravity of Russian protest has shifted from Moscow to the regions, but they have not focused on what this means in terms of the composition of those taking part in demonstrations.
In Moscow and in most other large Russian cities, protests are dominated by the young, the middle class and the more educated; but, according to a study by the Russian Academy of Sciences, Pavel Pryanikov says, those in the regions are older, poorer, and less schooled (newizv.ru/article/general/16-07-2021/portret-uchastnika-aktsiy-protesta-v-regionah-pozhiloy-bednyy-neobrazovannyy).
This reflects the overall composition of the population of the two Russias, but it is certain to have an impact on what issues people in the two places focus on and choose to protest about and on how their respective demonstrations will look and develop, the journalist and commentator suggests.
Experts at the Vologda Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences monitored protest attitudes among residents of regions in Central Russia between 2008 and 2019. They found that the amount of protest in the regions varied little from about 18 to 20 percent over that period.
In contrast to the big cities, however, the poorest people in the regions were far more likely to protest, with 31 to 32 percent of the people taking part in demonstrations being from that demographic category. At the same time, young people formed a much lower percentage of protesters in the regions than in the capital, with only about 15 percent under 30.
And educational attainment among protesters in the regions was lower, with 23 percent of demonstrators outside of the cities being people with only secondary or incomplete secondary educations, the Vologda scholars concludes.
What this means, Pryanikov says, is that the typical protester outside of Moscow is “an individual aged about 50 to 55, poor even relative to regional standards and with a low level of education. Obviously, the average Muscovite liberal will hardly find a common language with such regional protests.”
Instead, these regional demonstrators are far more likely to link up with the KPRF or the LDPR.