Today the Wall Street Journal has a long feature story about the rising fortunes of one working class family in Russia, and how economic growth continues to bolster Putin’s popularity despite some unpopular authoritarian measures. The article also takes note of the sharp spike in conspicuous consumption – it seems that “keeping up with the Smirnoffs” is posing some cultural challenges for the new generation of Russians to navigate.
WSJ: Living Larger in the New Russia
Putin’s rollback of democratic institutions such as elections and media freedom doesn’t bother them. Opposition demonstrators beaten by police this spring are probably paid stooges, Vitaly says, citing state-TV reports.”Nobody’s twisting arms,” he says. “But just like in any country, a person shouldn’t talk too much.”