Saturday, August 6, 2022

Only 10 Percent of Russians Oppose Putin and Not All of Them Do So from the Liberal Side, Levinson Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 13 – More than 80 percent really support Vladimir Putin, and only about ten percent oppose him, but both of these figures are in a certain sense deceptive because the former rises from a base of 60 percent who will always support the state and its leader and the latter is divided between liberals and reactionaries, Aleksey Levinson says.

            “Since 2000, when Putin’s presidential career began,” the Levada Center sociologist says, “the share of those” declaring that they support the Kremlin leader has  “always stood at or above 60 percent.” What that means is that surges to the high 80s “no longer look gigantic” but fall within the normal range (

            Sixty percent of the Russian population thus forms “the reliable ‘Putin majority,’” Levinson continues. It is dominated by those over 55 who live in villages and small towns and women. It is dependent on the government for pensions and relies  almost exclusively on television for its view of the world.

            Those who form this permanent majority “believe in the way things are done in Russia: the authorities must be respected and supported since everything would fall apart without them.” They do not want change and thus support Putin who appears not to want to change anything either

            What is often neglected is the fact that this group is self-renewing, Levinson says. Older people die off but younger ones join its ranks when they come to rely on pensions for their income and television for their ideas. Regardless of their earlier views, they “become conservative and cynical and stop believing in the ideals of freedom.”

            But the over-55 age cohort is not the only part of the permanent Putin majority. Younger people as they age also become more cynical and see that the only way for advancement is joining the siloviki and middle-aged people count on things not getting worse even if they don’t see any prospects for them getting better. Both these groups help form the 60 percent cushion.

            Putin gains the support of others only if they become excited about some great victory like Crimea or potentially like Ukraine. Then his figures go up to the high 80s. But that still leaves about ten percent who oppose him and the authorities at all times, a group that is equally diverse.

            On the one hand, it consists of liberals who want freedom and democracy; but on the other, it also includes those who want an even tougher line than Putin has so far shown himself willing to adopt.


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