Today, the young generation is more critical of the authorities than any other population segment. But how reasonable is it to expect the new generation to usher in modernization? Who will win the battle for the young: the state or civil society institutions? And will today’s young people become just another disappointed generation?
In recent years, the Russian public has gotten used to an atmosphere of constant tension. War has become routine and the West is still considered the enemy. But that could evolve rapidly if tensions are dialed back.
A new spiral of international escalation would rapidly accelerate and entrench the repressive trends that have been in ascendancy in Russian public life in recent years. Any dissatisfaction will be crushed with redoubled strength, including when it emerges within the in-system opposition.
It seems clear that any war would destroy the still relevant Putinist model of the state as stable and successful. Instead of mobilizing public opinion ahead of the 2024 presidential election, it would have the opposite effect.
When the Soviet Union finally fell, it was in a mundane way, as if it had clocked off from a normal day's work.
Militarization stopped being a way to mobilize Russians in support of the government in 2018. Russians—in particular young people—don’t want war.
The prevailing attitude among members of the ruling class appears to be that there is enough oil and gas to keep the state coffers full, buy voters’ loyalty, and control civil society and the media for as long as the country’s current leaders are in power. What comes after that does not concern them—to quote Madam de Pompadour: “After us, the deluge.”
Russia faces a litany of long-term economic challenges that will hobble its growth potential but likely won’t be severe enough to force far-reaching political change.
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to someone who personifies freedom of speech: something that is crucial to prevent Navalny from remaining in an information vacuum, and therefore without public protection.