Staunton, June 8 – The Kremlin plans to make youth policy a centerpiece of Vladimir Putin’s campaign, Vedomosti says today, a reflection experts suggest of its belief that young people see no alternative to Putin but might not take part unless appealed to and its concern that older cohorts may be less inclined to back him.
The paper’s Elena Mukhametshina and Olga Churakova describe the discussions in the Kremlin on this issue, drawing on otherwise unidentified participants in them. But their most important contribution may be the comments of three experts about what this Kremlin focus on the young means (vedomosti.ru/politics/articles/2017/06/08/693507-kreml-problemi-molodezhi).
VTsIOM director Valery Fedorov says that the young people are in political play, that many parties will try to get their first vote, but that the biggest challenge will be to get them to show up at polling places.
Aleksey Grazhdankin, deputy director of the Levada Center, says that young people are more inclined to support the current system than their elders but at the same time, they are “less politically active” and, because of “demographic circumstances,” are “not a very large group” compared to the others.
They can be appealed to both directly and via their parents, he continues, and focusing on the young allows the powers that be to talk in general terms about the future rather than focus on specific problems of the present.
And Andrey Kolesnikov of the Moscow Carnegie Center, says that the Kremlin’s focus on the young highlights its apparent “doubts” about other age groups.” What the current regime needs is to “raise a generation of conformist people,” and sociologists say that Russia’s young today are “more conformist and inert” than their elders, despite participation in demonstrations.
Young people, he points out, “have seen no one except Putin and want to solve their day-to-day problems. They seek work and, realistically evaluating the labor market, want to work in government structures,” a goal that makes them more likely to be conformist than would otherwise be the case.
Some would obviously like to rise in the world outside of government, but social lifts in Russia don’t work very well except for the children of the elite, and so talking about that key concern of young people, Kolesnikov says, could end by creating more problems for the authorities than not doing so at all.