Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Russians Loyal to Putin but Don’t Want a North Korea-Style Regime, Sociologist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 21 – A recent interview by anti-war blogger Yury Duda with pro-war actor and telegram channel editor Oskar Kuchera that has attracted some 17 million views on YouTube provides some important insights into the nature of “the Putin man” and limits of popular support for the Kremlin leader, Svetlana Stephenson says.

            The London-based Russian sociologist says that while Duda was not able to convince Kuchera to change his views, the anti-war blogger had performed an extremely useful service by providing those who viewed their exchange with “a portrait of an individual who has taken shape under Putin’s prolonged rule” (

            The Putin man, Stephenson says, as shown in this interview, is “somewhat inconsistent and somewhat cunning; but there can be no doubt that he has his own vision of the world,” a vision that the Putin system has promoted both by its specific policies and by the general form of rule the current Kremlin leader wants.

            “Millions of Russians have adapted to life within this system and now reproduce it themselves,” the sociologist says. “They do not live according to the law but rather according to understandings, force is the equal of law, patron-client relations supplant the logic of the  market, and authoritarianism is the only possible form of government” for such people.

            For such people, “cynicism and greed coexist with a sense of moral superiority over soulless America, internal minorities and oppositionists;” and such values “will determine the consciousness of the Russian people for a long time to come regardless of who comes to power in Russia after Putin’s departure.”

            One can hardly expect that values like freedom, democracy, legality and human rights will secure broad support among Putin’s millions of spiritual heirs given his years of scorched earth tactics.”

            But what this interview shows is that there is some good news. “These people sincerely want peace, comfort and money and are not ready to make sacrifices for the good of the Motherland even though they declare their unconditional loyalty to the state,” Stephenson continues.

            Such people, she says, “want an end to the war and better relations with the West,” and those hopes provide some basis for thinking that “after Putin’s departure, there will be a slow but difficult normalization of life in Russia.” At the very least, there is no reason to think that Putin people want Russia to become a North Korea or an Iran.

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