Russia election: What do young Russians think of Putin?

Russia election: What do young Russians think of Putin?
From BBC - March 13, 2018

Nikita Pavlov is six days too young to vote in Russia's presidential election on 18 March.

"It does not matter, I would not have voted anyway," he says. "This is the election with no choice."

Nikita lives in Nizhny Novgorod, a central Russian city of one million inhabitants.

He wants to study in Moscow and in a few months he will find out if his grades are good enough.

"There's no prospect for me here," he says.

"A job in an office for 50,000 roubles (633; $880) a month is the best I can hope for in this town."

After finishing school, many young Russians head to Moscow or St Petersburg. That is where the jobs and the money are.

Nikita's dream is to become an entertainer. He wants to be like Ivan Urgant, a Russian late-night talk show host similar to Stephen Colbert or Jimmy Kimmel.

"But you ca not speak freely on TV," he says. And censorship is not the only problem.

"We live in a feudal state here in Russia," Nikita says. "If I look for a good position after graduation, all the nice posts will be taken by well-connected sons."

The idea of boycotting the "election with no choice" is Alexei Navalny's.

The opposition leader is barred from standing as a presidential candidate because of a corruption conviction that he says is politically motivated.

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Navalny has been campaigning against corruption since 2008, but he became popular among teenagers in the spring of 2017.

Youngsters like Nikita turned out to Navalny's anti-corruption rallies all over the country, unafraid of the police who detained many protesters.

In March, when the rallies spread to 82 Russian cities, teachers and university professors started berating their students for attending the protests.

But the teachers proved out of touch with their digital-savvy students.

All over the country, pupils recorded teachers trying to humiliate them and uploaded the films on the internet.

'Putin has never done anything wrong to me'

Election after election, fewer and fewer voters go to the polling stations. Many want to rid their lives of politics altogether.

"I would be fine with a monarchy," Ivan Sourvillo shrugs. "I guess Stalin is not OK, but I can live with any government that does not touch me personally."

Eighteen-year-old Ivan has a successful blog. He interviews well-known Russians and writes about his travels and the lectures he has attended. With about 20,000 subscribers, he can make about $150 a month.

Ivan lives just off the Arbat, a prosperous part of central Moscow filled with souvenir shops and artists waiting for tourists.

"Is this where you used to run around when you were younger?" I ask.

'If not Putin, then who else?'


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