Monday, January 10, 2022

Young Russians More Like Counterparts in West than to Their Parents – and Moscow isn’t Reaching Them, Pozhivilko Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 20 – Young Russians, even in the provinces, are more like their counterparts in foreign countries than they are like their parents and grandparents, Konstantin Pozhivilko says; but Moscow doesn’t know how to reach them, opting to blame the young for this and failing to reach out to them.

            Instead, the Russian analyst says, the Kremlin operates on the assumption that the only dialogue it needs with young Russians is one between them and the siloviki, an approach that ensures the divide between the young and their elders will increase to threatening dimensions (

            The global village people talked about is here for the young, and the Internet is their teacher, Pozhivilko says. That ties the generation together and splits them off from their parents who live by other means. “For Russia’s young, this leap has turned out much more traumatic” than it has elsewhere.

            Russians, including the young, have seen two systems collapse in the space of the last 30 years, first the Soviet one and then the wild one of the 1990s. As a result, Russian young people have become even more selfish and egoistic than other young people and more fully accepted the idea that relations with others must be based only on Huxley’s “mutual use.”

            There has always been a generational divide, “but never have fathers and children been so far from one another.” And what makes this divide particularly dangerous in Russia today is that the elders in power are simply blaming the young rather than reaching out to them in an effort to understand and then guide them.

            Emblematic of this neglect is that five years ago, the Kremlin sought to involve the leaders of youth culture in its election campaigns. But now it no longer is making that effort. Instead, the regime is acting on the assumption that it can deal with the young with repression alone, something even the Soviets did not do.

            Now, some in the Duma are beginning to speak again about the need for “a youth policy,” but that has left them trapped in the same paradigm. They shouldn’t be talking about a policy but about creating conditions for the socialization of young people. Until they do that, Pavlizhko says, all their words will prove empty and ineffective.


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