Sunday, May 29, 2022

There weren’t Mass Protests in the 1990s and There won’t Be Any Now, Zubarevich Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 13 – Despite the fact that the economic crisis Russia finds itself in now is similar in size to the one it faced in the 1990s and thus far smaller than the ones in the last 15 years, one must remember that Russians did not go into the streets to protest in massive numbers in the 1990s and are unlikely to do so now, Natalya Zubarevich says.

            The willingness of Russians to put up with disaster and to show patience when other peoples would be protesting is one of the great continuities in Russian history, the Moscow State University economic geographer says, one that reflects far deeper causes than just fears of repression (

            Like the crisis of the 1990s but unlike those more recently, the current crisis is especially severe because it touches all parts of Russian society, Zubarevich continues. There aren’t any winners who can be counted on to support the Kremlin because of that; and prospects for an end to the current situation compared to those in earlier crisis periods are far less certain.

            In such a situation, one in which Moscow has ever less readiness to help the population and ever fewer resources to do so, the best thing Russians can do is hunker down and help one another to survive, a reasonable strategy but one that many will be willing to follow only for so long.

            Once the patience of Russians does snap, then the question won’t be about mass demonstrations but about something far more radical, Zubarevich suggests.   

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