Kremlin propagandists suggest there were two basic reasons why so many young people took part in last Sunday’s anti-corruption demonstrations: supposedly, the organizers paid them and young people are easier to mislead. But Igor Eidman points to five more fundamental reasons why “Putin has lost the younger generation” now and forever.
- First of all, the Russian commentator says, younger Russians “are a group in the population least affected by state television programming.” They watch television far less than their elders, and some of them do not watch television at all, preferring to rely on the Internet.
- Second, younger Russians are more put off than their elders by the officious and bombastic official patriotism the Kremlin and its backers no often. They don’t accept the memes Putin offers as necessarily true because he offers them; they want to form their own views on the basis of their own experience.
- Third, younger Russians are not burdened by “the weight of the negative experience of the past as are those in their 40s and 50s.” The latter suffered disappointment as a result of the unrealized promises of perestroika, but the former in most cases weren’t even alive when these promises were made. They are not as disillusioned because they haven’t been illusioned.
- Fourth, young Russians “didn’t take part in the division of property” after 1991, and they are put off by the emergence of two kinds of Russians, a hereditary wealthy set and an impoverished mass. That strikes them even more than their parents as fundamentally unjust and something that must be changed.
- And fifth, young Russians like young people everywhere generally react negatively to efforts by their elders to impose the values of the latter on them. The more pressure the parental generation imposes, the sharper and more negative young people turn away from those ideas. As a result, “to protest against the regime is becoming fashionable.”
There are, of course, additional reasons that Eidman doesn’t mention including the calculation of at least some young Russians that a change in the national leadership might reduce the number of foreign conflicts Russia is involved with and thus their chances of being dispatched to and possibly being wounded or killed in such wars.
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