Saturday, January 8, 2022

Russian Society Ever More Polarized with Kremlin Backed Primarily by Older and Less Educated, Levada Center Says

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 18 – Russian society is becoming ever more polarized politically, with older and less well-educated portions of the population remaining the basic supporters of the Putin regime while younger and better-educated ones are increasingly neutral if not openly hostile to it, Levada Center’s Denis Volkov says.

            In an article detailing the findings of his center before, during and after the September Duma elections, the sociologist offers eight key conclusions about where the Russian population now stands with respect to the regime (

1.     Given the decline in the ratings of United Russia, the regime sought to mobilize as much as possible its supporters while using repression to demobilize those who support other parties.

2.     The state focused on the supporters of the party of power who are dependent on the government such as state employees and pensioners while demobilizing the young. “This strategy worked in part.”

3.     More than half of all Russians did not follow the election campaign, two-thirds didn’t watch the televised debates, and “almost three quarters did not discuss the elections with friends and families.” Moreover, compared with earlier elections, fewer offered the names of candidates when they took part in focus groups.

4.     The electorate for United Russia became older and less well-educated, while that of the KPRF, in part because of “smart voting,” became younger and better educated.

5.     Surveys suggest that if Navalny’s party had been on the ballot, it would have attracted more than five percent of the vote and thus acquired seats in the Duma.

6.     Russian society is now divided roughly in half between those who think the elections were honest and are satisfied with the results and those who are not, the result of the continuation of earlier levels of support for the regime and the increase in the number of negative assessments.

7.     Those with positive views are mostly those who voted for United Russia, a group that is older, employed by the state or watches television. The dissatisfied are the younger, more educated and more active users of the Internet.

8.     The powers that be “ever more rely on the oldest and least educated and this means the most conservative – if one looks at their attitudes toward protests – the most reactionary strata of Russian society.” The support of these groups is rational in that they are getting assistance from the regime, but their share in the population is gradually declining.

Reliance on these older and less educated groups fits in with the Putin regime’s goals, the Levada Center sociologist concludes, “but from the point of view of the development of the country, the suppression and frightening of the younger generation hardly can be considered justified.”

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