Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Middle-Aged Russians Most Appalled by Putin’s War in Ukraine, Albats Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 4 – Putin’s war in Ukraine has deepened the generational divide in the Russian Federation, with the oldest accepting or supporting the war because of their experiences in Soviet times, the youngest often doing the same because they have known only Putin’s rule, and the middle-aged who experienced freedom that has now been taken away most appalled.

            The Moscow journalist and commentator says that in her view, this divide in attitudes toward the war is connected in the first instance with the very different personal experiences of the three generations. Those at or near pension age “were formed under Soviet conditions when any resistance was fraught and influencing the decisions of the authorities was impossible.”

            For members of this age group, Albats continues, “conformist was a condition of survival.” One kept one’s head down and tried to live one’s own live without attracting the attention of the authorities to oneself or those close to one, giving rise to a set of attitudes and behaviors that has continued (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/212109).

            Russians in their 30s and 40s grew up in very different circumstances: success was achieved by individualists, there were elections, protest meetings, volunteer activities,” and people had “the conviction that they had the right” to these things, something that “formed a completely different set of attitudes toward the state.”

            For this age group, unlike their elders who accepted the war because the bosses ordered it, Albats says, “the introduction of forces into Ukraine, the break in relations with the rest of the world, one which they had already been accustomed to feel themselves a part of, the closing of independent media, censorship, arrests, wild fines, the impossibility of protest, and finally fear that they would lose their jobs were all viewed by them as a catastrophe.”

            And as a result, “eight out of ten” of these people do not see themselves as staying in Russia but rather going abroad either temporarily or permanently. In Soviet times, people searched for a Jewish grandmother so they could leave; now, middle-aged Russians look for grandmothers of other nationalities in the hopes that will gain them entrance to other countries.

            As for the youngest generation of adults, those in their 20s, the situation is different yet again. “They have not known any other boss besides Putin … and they don’t have any personal experience with freedom.” Instead, they have “only complexes,” leaving them less angry than their parents but less supportive of the Kremlin than their grandparents.

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