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Russia’s Damaged System Still Working

I caught the following excerpt over on World Politics Review by Daria Solovieva, which takes a cursory look at the relationship between Russia’s economic boom times and the low level of political activity on behalf of citizens – more or less alluding to the classic authoritarian model of giving up your rights in exchange for economic prosperity.  Nowadays, with the crunch of the crisis bearing down, studies are showing that Russians have a growing interest in the administration public affairs, and may even like to have a say in the matter – a trend that has the Kremlin hastily responding to install doppleganger liberals like NIkita Belykh and token human rights measures like paroling Svetlana Bakhmina.  But that’s all just a ruse, especially if the dark lord Vladislav Surkov continues to boast that “the system is working.”  It could not be confirmed, however, whether or not Surkov delivered that line while petting a cat and sitting in a diabolical throne-like swivel chair … followed by peals of delirious laughter.

With the confidence of the oil-boom years a casualty of the country’s sharply deteriorating financial outlook, Russians have shed their traditional reluctance to participate in the political process. The official polling agency, VTSIOM, found that 48 percent of respondents are ready to mobilize and be more politically active, with the number trending upwards.

“There is a rollback of many of the achievements of the early 2000s,” said Valery Federov, head of VTSIOM, at an April 29 press briefing.

For now, willingness to join mass protests is not as high as in neighboring Ukraine and Belarus. But the uncertain economic climate and growing ranks of the unemployed are significant enough to keep the Kremlin on its toes.