Friday, May 3, 2024

‘Criticism of the Russian Government has Fallen but Desire for a Renewed One Exists,’ Fedorov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 28 – A new trend in public opinion is making it ever more difficult to understand what is going on in Russia, Valery Fedorov, the head of the VTsIOM polling agency says. “Criticism of the existing elite has declined [since the war in Ukraine began] but the demand for a new one, of course exists.

            On the one hand, the sociologist suggests, the decline in criticism of the existing elite and its policies certainly indicates that that the government has more support than it did; but on the other, the desire for replacing it with a new one shows that many Russians are at a certain level unhappy with Moscow’s current course (

            Fedorov is talking specifically about the government headed by the prime minister rather than the regime headed by Vladimir Putin, but his observations about the first are likely suggestive of what is true about popular assessments of the Kremlin leader and his entourage as well.

            Because of the conflict in Ukraine, Fedorov says, there has been a rallying around the government, “but of course there is a demand for a new elite. Russian society wants to see in it more young, promising and modern people.” At the same time, however, “these people must be our people, real patriots who will stand up for Russia to the last and not betray it.”

            The new elite is likely to come from those who fought in Ukraine, but not all who have fought there will succeed because the skills needed to fight and those needed to modernize a society are different, the VTsIOM head says. Some will succeed but others won’t, and the selection process will be tough.

            According to Fedotov, this process will take place within the elite because ordinary Russians “have simple desires: a family, a decent income, children … We don’t have many careerists. If there were a lot of careerists, that could create serious problems for the country because it would lead to “an overproduction” of people who want to enter the elite.

            “That is what was the case in the 1980s,” he continues, “and it all ended badly, with the collapse of the USSR.”


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