At the same time, one must understand that Putin and his power machine are not able to completely and unilaterally change the regime. It may seem to the authorities that they abruptly switched the mode switch for the entire machine, in fact, the functioning of only the power system itself has radically changed. A huge role in such situations is played by the general context, and for Russia it lies not only in deteriorating economic conditions and an increasingly negative perception of the Russian government by the international community, but also, which is absolutely fundamental, in entering the public space of public sentiment.
Measure these sentiments in the Russian conditions of lack of freedom hard even such a relatively independent organization as the Levada Center. However, along with the ratings of the authorities and, in particular, of President Putin, whose electoral rating in less than four years got down from 57% to 32%, there are other indicators that speak of an increase in protest potential and, at the same time, a more complex picture of social development. Among other things, they say that the change of the ruling regime in 2021 is not a total change in the structure of life in Russia, but transition from electoral authoritarianism to dictatorship within the very system of power.
The gradual weakening of the legitimacy of the authorities, which by all accounts led to the disappearance of Putin’s majority in 2021, prompted radical steps to destroy public political activity, within which the opposition could function as part of the legal field. However, at the same time, the development of society is going its own way against the background of the continuing demand for legalism, which, in particular, is evidenced by qualitative research Public Sociology Laboratories dedicated to local activism. Also, according to researchconducted in Russia by Karin Clement, grassroots social needs in general regime coordination give rise to popular patriotism, which is increasingly opposing false semi-official patriotism.
Against this background, attention is drawn to noticeable decline in confidence not only to Putin, but also to the security officials, in particular to the FSB (from 53% to 45% over the last year), while the proportion of those who answered positively to the question “Are you afraid of the arbitrariness of the authorities, lawlessness?” in a year increased from 49% to 58%, and the proportion of those afraid of a return to mass repression – from 39% to 52%.
Finally, the most important sign of the deep, demographically determined changes in society that continue, regardless of the change in the power regime, is the fact that middle-aged cohorts of respondents in mass polls are becoming closer in their views to younger cohorts, and not to older ones. Along with the fact that the volume of the Internet audience approached noticeably to the volume of the television audience, this indicates an increased potential for converting public sentiments into socio-political action.