One of the righteous ways to search for truth is to resolutely reject generalization. There is no “loyal majority”, and “Putin’s swamp” is a myth. People are different, with variegated aspirations and backgrounds. For example, after studying Levada polls, political strategist Abbas Galyamov divided the electorate into several categories according to the degree of loyalty, and here two categories seem to be important, quantitatively representing as much as 30% of the total number of respondents:
Now about the supporters of the authorities. Their core is about 10 percent of voters. These are aggressive anti-liberals. Repressions against the opposition and the media evoke positive emotions in them. Putin’s positions in this environment are unshakable.
About 20 percent of the electorate can be attributed to the power periphery. In general, these people tend to agree with the rhetoric of the authorities, but, for example, they do not like repression. They can still approve of the pressure on the leaders of the protest, declared “American agents”, but the pressure on the ordinary opposition is too much for them. The vast majority of this group does not believe in the honesty of the authorities and rather out of habit supports them. Many do not even believe that the country is developing in the right direction. As in the opposition environment, a demand for changes is also maturing here – only more careful, not destroying “stability”. Representatives of this group rather approve of Putin’s course, but trust the president himself less and less. However, they do not dispute his right to power. At the same time, it cannot be ruled out that by 2024 these people will formulate a clear request for a successor.
About 10 percent are those who can be called “semi-loyalists”. These people, in principle, can join the opposition, but on condition that it demonstrates positive dynamics – that is, win. In addition, this group certainly sympathizes with the “signal” protest – when disaffected people go out into the streets not to demand resignations, but in order to call on the authorities to solve some particular problem (for example, to abandon plans to introduce QR codes) …
Does this mean that in the current “wave of protest” we are dealing with only 10 percent of “semi-loyalists”? Quite possible. But the very reputation of current sociology and the obvious problems with citizens expressing their opinion, when you can get five full years in prison for a tweet or repost, gives rise to doubt. In any case, in multi-million Moscow, the organizers of the unsanitary rally on December 12 announce a procession for only 500 people.
The search for analogies in the recent history of post-democratic Russia also provides some room for thought.
Old-timers remember the history of twenty years ago with the introduction of the INN. In the winter of 2001 at the Trinity-Sergius Lavra was forced to pack a whole Theological Commission of the Moscow Patriarchate in order to figure out why among the parishioners there was a massive belief that the Number of the Beast 666 is “sewn up” in the INN barcodes, and now every Russian who acquires an INN will be uncomfortable. Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk was then forced to officially declare: “We heard the experts, we heard the exegetes, and came to the conclusion that 666 is not present either in the INN or in the electronic identity documents.” As the press reported,
“The mass protest in some regions of Russia has acquired the features of a well-prepared action aimed, if not at splitting society, then at creating civil tension, for sure. Inspired by other priests, groups of laity attack those leaving the church, inviting them to sign an appeal to the president and fill out ready-made forms of applications for the refusal of the TIN, reproduced in typography). These statements, where hundreds, and sometimes thousands, go to the tax office. “
How did it end? There was no revolution for sure, while it was not the authorities who spoke to the citizens, but the Russian Orthodox Church. Relapses of the then movement still arise in some demarches, like the letter of the hockey player Datsyuk about the SNILS pension insurance numbers, which he in 2019 sent to whom? Of course, to President Putin, but unrequited – Peskov said that the Kremlin knew nothing about it.
This irresponsibility is perhaps a more significant problem than the very misconceptions of subjects about the flat earth, the number of the Beast, or the seizure of television by alien forces. When the government suddenly turns out to be driven by good intentions to do something useful, right up to saving the very life of the population, even with a strong desire, it cannot explain what it wants – the explanation has long and reliably atrophied. In the 2000s, Russia entered with a rich tradition of unsuccessful communication between people and their bosses, either about GKO bonds, or vouchers, or missing deposits in Sberbank.
Members of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee Gorbachev and Yeltsin, who turned into democrats, seemed to be trying to overcome their inability and unwillingness to talk, but both suffered crushing failure. At the same time, not just bosses, but specific specialists should talk to people on specific issues. However, Chubais and Kiriyenko did not even try to do this at all, and successfully implemented this tradition under the Putin administration (for which Putin has to take the rap with many hours of straight lines, after which The Insider’s editors are forced to write refutations of 10-15 “main points each time the president lied “).
People have become accustomed to this for several generations, and therefore have developed a basic instinct “If you don’t touch us, then we won’t touch you, – for God’s sake, kill foreign agents and liberals, we don’t know who they are at all, but we like- we will interrupt someday. So far, this does not concern the personal pocket or the body of a “loyal voter,” or attempts to see what he is doing. We will close our eyes to your geopolitical antics and torture in prisons – and you do not peep how we do not pay taxes and spread a virus that, by the way, no one has seen.
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