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Wednesday, 30 May 2012 06:33

Under Russian eyes Part 2

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Vladimir Putin has been officially inaugurated as the new President of Russia, again. But is the country he is about to lead the same as it was when he stepped away from power in 2008? How do young people in Russia perceive Putin now and what does his re-election mean for the perspectives of their country? I asked two young students from St. Petersburg to give us their opinions. Here is part two:

Konstantin Tarasov is a Phd student at the European University at St. Petersburg. His major is Russian History with particular focus on the Russian Revolution of 1917.

E&M: What do you think about the election results?

KT: I think everybody knew the results before the election. For me, the actual percentage doesn't matter. Only Putin could win. That's why the opposition wanted to demonstrate even before the announcement of the results.

E&M: Can you understand people who are upset about Putin's re-election and who raise the issue of fraud?

KT: Yes, of course. A lot of well-educated and smart people think that they can't achieve much in Russia. They are dissatisfied with the cost of housing, gasoline, transportation, etc. They associate all these problems with the head of state. Putin represents himself as a system, as someone leading the way. So obviously, some people don't like this way. I would agree that in our country parts of the results were falsified. But nevertheless Putin would have won. Perhaps he would have to have entered into a second round and somehow didn't want this.

"We still need to overcome the mental barriers that appeared during the time of the Soviet Union."

E&M: What is your opinion on the other candidates in the elections and their parties?

KT: There was no candidate with strong support. But Putin is a proven quality. Those who voted for Zyuganov or Zhirinovsky did it just in order not to vote for Putin. Those who voted for Putin think that he is much better than the others. We got five candidates and for me Putin was sufficient.

E&M: Putin himself, other politicians and the Russian media often point out the factor of stability under Putin's rule as president. How do you feel about that?

KT: For my parents it really is an important factor but not for me. And I think it is just rhetoric. Everything is changing, but very slowly.

E&M: How would you explain the broad support United Russia and Putin still have, especially in rural areas?

KT: I don't know where you got this evidence from. As I see the situations in provinces, for example in the Urals, local communists are much more popular. But in some areas people vote for United Russia because they are conformists.

E&M: Is this divide between support for Putin in rural areas and demonstrations in big cities in the west a problem for Russia in your opinion?

KT: I just mean to say that there are more disappointed people in big cities, unable to realise their expectations. It's a problem of urbanisation but not of politics.

E&M: How do you see Russia's role in relation to Europe?

KT: It's based on interrelation. We still need to overcome the mental barriers that appeared during the time of the Soviet Union. Before the Revolution it was normal to study in Europe and then come back to Russia to work. Or to work in Russia before living for some time in Europe and then returning to Russia again. 

E&M: What does Europe mean to you?

KT: It represents a very developed culture with interesting traditions and a rich history.

E&M: Thank you Konstantin! 

Last modified on Wednesday, 30 May 2012 13:19
Simon Schmidt

Simon Schmidt holds a BA in International Business and is an alumnus of the International MA program of Political Science with respect to Russia and Eurasia of the European University at St. Petersburg. His main interests are Russian-EU relations and energy, security and economic developments in post-Soviet Eurasia. He currently lives and works in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

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