Prospects of Political Protest in Contemporary Russia

  • Abstract:

    In 2011-2012, Russia was hit by a wave of rallies against falsification of State Duma election results. The protest actions were mainly attended by the middle class of large Russian cities. However, leaders of these actions were not able to offer a plan significant for all the country. Most of the Russians did not support the protests. Conducting of significant foreign-policy moves by the Russian President V. Putin (the Olympic Games in Sochi, annexation of Crimea, participation in settlement of the conflict in Ukraine, a military effort in Syria) has considerably raised the rating of the central administration. Experts are recording a high level of consent with the policy pursued by V. Putin: 89.9% of the Russians approve his activities. However, the citizens of Russia are starting to be adversely affected by implications of economic difficulties and Western sanctions: prices for essential commodities are rising, while real earnings of most Russians are remaining the same or decreasing. It forms an additional factor for discontent and increase of potential for protest actions. At the same time, sociologists are recording a constant distrust of the election procedure. The Election Day is a bifurcation point of political development of Russia. The authorities are most vulnerable on this day and the opposition has a chance to mobilize the support of large segments of Russian society. The regular elections of deputies of the State Duma will be held in September 2016. The incumbent has introduced changes in the procedure for formation of the State Duma (a mixed election system and a new method for formation of electoral districts). Moreover, the civil society is forming a number of loyal public organizations that will get the financial support. Social research data do not allow us to make any conclusions about Russian citizens’ readiness for protest actions.