Russia on the Ground – April-May, 2017

Russia on the Ground
April-May, 2017

RASP-BlueThis resource serves to track domestic news inside Russia – focusing primarily on demographics, public opinion, economy, and major domestic political events inside Russia.

It is intended to give students who are otherwise following major issues and events within Russia greater context from which to view those issues and events. This resource lists useful but often under-reported information that can help build a pragmatic and objective view of Russia’s domestic situation.


Russian Public Opinion

Poll Shows More than 82% Approve of Putin’s Work
United Russia’s electoral rating, that soared to this year’s record-high in mid-March of 51.4%, stood at a 49.3% average in the first week of May, which is 1.2% more than at the end of April. Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party’s rating inched up slightly by 0.1% to 12.1% during the week.

What Russians Really Want in Life
Russians place priority on maintaining their health and family at the expense of careers and social action.

Russians Support Limiting Internet Anonymity
41% support registering the real names of internet users, up from 24% in 2012; 26% currently oppose the plan.

New Russian Bill Hopes to Ban Social Networks for Children Under 14
62% of Russians support banning children from social networks.

Half of Russians Could “Unplug Their Lives” from the Internet
75% of Russians use the Internet. 90% of those between 18-24 use it daily.

Who Do Russians Blame for Corruption?
More than 2/3rds of Russians Believe Putin in Largely or Wholly Responsible for Corruption

Russians Rank Second Globally for Reading
Only the Chinese read more books than the Russians.

Is Russia the World’s Heaviest-drinking Country?
Improved living standards, growing health consciousness and an active campaign by the state has led to reduced per capita alcohol consumption in the country.

Almost a Third of Russians See Possibility of War with U.S.
16 percent consider war between the two world powers to be “highly possible,” while another 14 percent believe that a war is already underway.

Young Russians Love Putin, State Ownership and Socialism
Russians, age 17-34: 69% say “Russia moving in right direction;” 70% “have no heroes” among the current generation of leaders.

Over Half of Russians Want Lenin Buried
58% want Lenin buried. 78% oppose removing his tomb from Red Square. 56% approve of Lenin as leader.

Approval for Stalin Hits Historical High
46% of Russians hold positive views of Stalin.


Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe
This massive survey by the Pew Research Center shows that former communist societies are now Europe’s most religious and most likely to see religion as part of their national identity.

Russia’s Muslims Are as Diverse as Their Experiences
Depending on who you ask, Russia is about 10-20% Muslim. Everyone agrees that the percentage is rising. Russia’s native Muslims have larger families than Russia’s Orthodox citizens. A large portion of Russia’s many immigrants come from predominantly Muslim Central Asian states. Russia’s Muslims, like any large population of humans, are very diverse. They range from the almost entirely secular to those holding extreme views. So what does this mean for the state?

After St. Petersburg Bombing, a Notable Absence: Russian anti-Islam backlash
Islam has been present in Russia for centuries. Many Russians know Muslims. Plus, Muslims have long been a politically active force in Russia. Thus, they are afforded more protection and are subject to fewer stereotypes than in countries where they are recent arrivals and less politically empowered.


Internship in RussiaRussia’s Economy is Recovering Well
Over the next few years, the IMF expects Russia’s economy to grow by about 1.5%. That compares with growth rates of more than 3.5% between 2010 and 2012.

Why is Russia So Good at Encouraging Women into Tech?
A new study from Microsoft shows Russia the best in Europe at getting women into technology careers.

A Vast Blockchain Experiment Could Change Russia
Putin has failed to spark a tech revolution, and not for a lack of trying.

The Economic Plan for Putin’s Next Term Is Already Set
Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin claims he knows how to boost economic growth. But analysts are skeptical.

Despite Sanctions, Economic Summit Booms
Western firms, even energy firms, are starting to show interest in Russia again – despite sanctions.

What Sanctions? JP Morgan And Goldman Sachs Become Top Three Investment Banks In Russia
VTB Capital was the market leader again with 18% market share. JP Morgan trails with an 11.4% share.

Why Does ExxonMobil Need Russia’s Arctic Region?
ExxonMobil was recently turned down for a sanctions exception as it sought to strengthen its position in the Russian market.

Renewed US-Russian Tension Dash Business Hopes
Sanctions are still in place but financiers say Moscow is recovering.

Number Of Russians In Poverty Hits Decade-High
The number of impoverished Russians rose by 300,000 in 2016, according to figures released on April 5 by the state statistics service, Rosstat.

Russian Agriculture Thrives Amid Restrictions
In the first six months of 2016, Russia produced 35% more tractors and harvesters than it did in the same period in 2015, with farmers ever-hungry for new equipment.

Civil Society

How a Bank’s Collapse Sparked Russia’s Least Likely Street Protests
The collapse of one of Russia’s largest banks has thousands calling for the resignation of Tatarstan’s president.

Youtube, Rap and Protest: The lives and loves of Russian teenagers
An overview of the new Russian youth. Like all large populations, there is significant diversity within the group. However, according to some recent studies, the traits that win out are: insularity, consumerist, technology-driven, and “they have renounced politics in its official, officious format, but politically they are involved.”

My Universe Continues to Expand
An American takes a firsthand look at civic activism in Siberia.

Muscovites Fight for a Slum of Their Own
On the face of it, anyone living in one of the ubiquitous five-story tenements ringing central Moscow should be happy to move out.

Domestic Politics

Number of Russian “Donor Regions” Nearly Halved Over 10 Years
A region is considered a “donor” if it can finance government services above a set minimum which is calculated on a per capita basis, i.e. if it does not require subsidization from the state.

Dirty Jobs: Being a Governor in Russia is Proving Tough
Ten years ago, it was difficult to imagine a criminal case being opened against a governor. Now though, they are being arrested almost on an industrial scale.

Young, Hipster and Red: Meet Russia’s New Generation of Communists
The crusty shell of Russia’s Communist Party may be associated with pensioners, but the movement is undergoing a face-lift.

Russian Police Probe Radical Pro-Kremlin Group Over Navalny Attack
At least one SERB member, Aleksei Kulakov, was caught on video appearing to film the April 27 attack on Navalny, in which an unidentified man runs up to the presidential hopeful and tosses zelyonka into his face.

Russian Opposition Leader Navalny Loses Defamation Case
The judge at Moscow’s Lyublinsky district court on Wednesday ordered Navalny to remove his YouTube documentary about Medvedev’s alleged wealth from the web and publish a retraction. The video got nearly 22 million views since it was released in March and became one of the most- viewed Russian-language videos this year. Navalny vowed to appeal the ruling and refused to comply with it.

An Analysis of Navalny’s Program
An analysis with context for the program, with links back to the original.

Putin’s National Guard Cracks Down On Opposition Activists In Irkutsk
An anticorruption protest in the Siberian city of Irkutsk on March 26 passed peacefully. The authorities had given permission for the event, and about 1,000 people listened to a few young organizers give impassioned speeches calling for an investigation into allegations of corruption leveled against Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev before heading home. There were no reports of arrests or violence.

Chechnya’s Anti-gay Pogrom: Too much even for the Kremlin?
The Kremlin has sent a team of reputable investigators into Russia’s tyrannical republic of Chechnya to examine reports of the rounding up, torture, and murder of dozens of gay men.

About the Author

Josh Wilson
Josh Wilson is the Assistant Director for The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) and Communications Director for Alinga Consulting Group. In those capacities, he has been managing publications and informative websites covering geopolitics, history, business, economy, and politics in Eurasia since 2003. He is based in Moscow, Russia. For SRAS, he also assists in program development and leads the Home and Abroad Programs.