Looking at Russia from a distance, or rather through the prism of what can be read and seen on the Internet, one can get the impression that the society has roughly divided into two camps – relatively satisfied with President Vladimir Putin and the way he exercises power and those very focused critically to his activities. Of course, in the group of satisfied are political supporters of President Putin, that is members of the United Russia party. I have included citizens in this group who perceive the defects and imperfections of Russian reality, who nevertheless accept the present state because they are not interested in experiencing further revolutionary changes on their own.
Such a philosophy of life can be observed in Poland and other countries of the former socialist bloc. The Russians had a different story, so they refer to other historical facts. They know the tragic consequences of the four-year civil war, between the Bolsheviks and the so-called White, which followed the revolution in 1917.
Probably many have in mind the disastrous effects of the economic collapse that followed the dissolution of the USSR. “From the corner of the eye” they observe the results of the change from “good for the better”, which Ukrainians have provided themselves, where the sinister goal of integration with the Union and NATO once again led to a decline in their standard of living.
It is probably not without significance for the views of this group of citizens that they are having their standard of living compared with those of citizens of EU countries. They have no doubt that Vladimir Putin’s rule has led to the decidedly best living conditions that the Russians have ever had. Like the citizens of other European countries, the majority of Russian citizens are able to move and live wherever they want in the country or abroad and that they have the financial means to do so.
The second group in the Russian society is made up of people who are clearly dissatisfied with President Putin’s rule and express their dissatisfaction in public. These people do not like the increase in the retirement age and the continuous increase in the prices of goods and services. Many Russians criticize the government of Dmitry Medvedev, the State Duma and the actions of local governors.
The Foundation for the Fight against Corruption Alexei Navalny collects evidence that high-level Russian state officials are cheating in property declarations. And they must get huge money “sideways”, because otherwise they would not be able to afford all these watches, jewelry, luxury cars, etc. They anticipated systematic economic growth and continuous increase in own revenues; they took loans that they are now unable to repay as the Russia’s economy has not developed for several years. Although the authorities announce small increases in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) each year, this increase does not translate in a visible way into the increase in income of the population.
A large group of citizens do not like officials called “Liberals” who obtained positions even the reign of President Yeltsin. They are especially reluctant to those who are active in business and banking, whom they suspect of getting their positions from the guarantee of the then President of the United States, Bill Clinton. They believe that the domestic financial elite do not care much about the national interests of Russia and Russians, as they are in the interest of international liberal elites. Many citizens who are dissatisfied opt for radical changes in the country aimed at reversing tendencies unfavourable for average citizens.