Putin's generation: the revelations of the Russians, who never lived under another government
18 March in Russia presidential elections were held, in which Vladimir Putin took part for the fifth time. They were first voted by Russians who were born in 2000, when Putin was elected for the first time. They never lived under a different president.
Russian millennials really know only one leader: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. They have no memories of the Soviet Union. They were in diapers when Boris Yeltsin was president. On March 18, some of them will vote for the first time and do so with the thought that Putin, who was both the president and the prime minister, will certainly win again.
Yet this could be a turning point for a generation. The next 6 years under Putin’s rule can be a period of development of the Millennial political movement, the echoes of which can already be heard in the lines of rap songs and at rallies organized by oppositionist Alexei Navalny.
But it is possible that the autocratic government of Russia will simply continue to suppress youthful restlessness.
The Millennial generation inherited Russia in decline. Low oil prices and Western sanctions - a punishment for the illegal accession of the Crimea - hit the economy. World oil consumption, which feeds the country's economy, is likely to continue to go along an incline, just like the birth rate in Russia.
Los Angeles Times have talked with young people from different parts of Russia to find out what they think about the upcoming elections.
Edik Levin, St. Petersburg
Edik Kingsta Levin came to St. Petersburg to study, but became a rapper. He moved from Tomsk 6 years ago, where in 13 years he decided that he would write rap as Dr. Dre and other American stars. He began to call himself Kingsta.
His mother was not very sympathetic to her son's dreams of a rap star career. “She constantly repeated:“ Enough to sit and write, think better about the future and start to learn, ”says 24-year-old Levin.
He was convinced that if he wanted to become an artist or get into the world of show business, then he needed to be in St. Petersburg, the second largest city of Russia and in many ways its cultural capital. Therefore, he entered international relations, but at any opportunity he wrote a rap in the dorm room.
“If I told my mother that I’m going to write rap here, she would call me an idiot,” admits Edik.
Like most young Russian rappers, Levin drew inspiration from the rounds of Oksimiron, an Oxford graduate. He is known for his aggressive, offensive texts, which often contain criticism of modern Russia and the policies of the Kremlin.
The digital age has influenced how young Russians receive information. The Millennials refrain from patriotic and anti-Western propaganda of state-owned media, preferring YouTubeChannels and news feeds of social networks. They exchange links to video bloggers and rappers via VKontakte, the Russian version. Facebook.
The last battle last August between Oksimiron, whose real name is Miron Fedorov, and Purulent gathered 3 a million views per night. Since then, it has already been viewed 29 a million times.
The culture of rap battles with mutual rhymed insults originated in Russia as an underground movement. Currently, the battles have grown into a platform for the free expression of the thoughts of youth.
“The older generation is used to being in control. In their opinion, if you have a small cozy house, you should be happy about it and in no case do nothing to risk it, ”Levin explains. - Young people are more progressive. Schoolchildren are going to rallies [Navalny] not because it is fashionable, but because they understand that if we don’t do anything now, we will live like our parents. ”
After the viral video with the battle of Oksimiron, the deputies called for the adoption of a law that would curb rap or, as they call it, “moral poverty”.
“Now we are a little scared,” says Levin. - When the video watched 100 thousands of people, we did not care. And now our battles have more views than many TV channels. ”
On the YouTube-Kanale Levin there is a battle, where opponents several times unflatteringly speak about Putin. At first, Edik was going to “bang up” these moments, but a few hours before publication, he still changed his mind.
“I thought that what was happening in the country was terrible. “I'm not going to lead a crowd somewhere and lead a revolution,” he says. “But even if famous rappers are afraid and silent, nothing will change.” Ordinary people are all the more silent. "
Arsen Avanesov, Volgograd
When Arsen Avanesov graduated from the faculty of psychology last spring, he made a promise to stay in Volgograd for a year, where he was born and raised to find work in his specialty.
Avanesov wanted to become a consulting psychologist, but, in his words, in Volgograd, this profession is viewed as charlatanry.
“In large regions like Moscow and St. Petersburg, psychologists are trusted, they are visited,” he says. “But in Volgograd, people do not understand this.”
Arsen intends to continue his search, but if he fails to find a job within a year, he will join thousands of other young Russians from provincial cities and leave. His plan B is to first go to Moscow or St. Petersburg, and then try your luck in Western Europe, where several of his friends are developing software.
Avanesov was 4 of the year, when on New Year's Eve of 1999, Boris Yeltsin announced his resignation and appointed then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as acting president. Now Arsen 22. He does not remember that change of power and does not see another in the near future.
“I respect Putin as a person. “He came to power at a difficult time for the country and managed to cope with the disorder with his own methods,” said Avanesov. “But now the state definitely needs someone more modern and with other management methods.”
Avanesov does not believe that this is Navalny. “He will not be able to bring anything constructive,” says Arsen. - If I were asked for whom I would vote for today - although I will not go to the polls because I do not want to - I would vote for Putin. Just now I don’t see a candidate capable of doing something better than Putin. ”
Echoes of history can be heard on the long embankments stretching along the great Volga, the most important strategic and commercial water artery of Russia. In Soviet times, Volgograd was a large industrial center with weapons, aluminum and shipbuilding plants.
But with the collapse of the Soviet infrastructure, many factories of the city were closed. Thousands of people were left without work. Currently, Volgograd is one of the poorest Russian millionaire cities.
This year, the city that previously bore the name of Stalingrad, celebrated the 75 anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad - the most important battle of the Second World War. The city is still dotted with traces of the battle, which is considered the greatest in the war and the largest in history. Before its end on 2, February 1943, the battle lasted 200 days, claimed 2 millions of lives and almost completely destroyed the urban landscape.
Wherever you turn your head, you will see a memorial reminiscent of war. The height of the most significant of them, Motherland Calls, is 85 meters from the base of the female figure to the tip of a sword piercing the sky. Her gaze is on a new stadium worth $ 278 million, built for the 2018 World Cup.
Such a global event for some time will provide young people of Volgograd with jobs, especially those who speak foreign languages and will be able to support the tourist economy for a while. But long-term prospects are waiting for young guys like Arsen only in Moscow or St. Petersburg.
“When I was in Moscow, I realized that Moscow and Volgograd are two completely different cities of completely different countries,” he says. - Nobody pays attention to us. We grow up and have no idea what to do here. ”
Economic Future: Russian Petroleum Engineers
Ekaterina Borodina, Tyumen
The oil and gas industry is important both for Tyumen and for the whole of Russia. This is proved by the 17 award ceremony for young oil specialists who have successfully completed an intensive course of training at Rosneft’s subsidiary, Russia's largest oil company. After the interns swore an oath of loyalty to the profession and promised to “achieve high results,” they went down from the stage to the company's executive director, who dipped his finger in a helmet full of crude oil and anointed each forehead with it.
A new cohort of specialists in oil and gas met with the most important industry in Russia.
According to 27-year-old Ekaterina Borodina, it is the young people who will help Russia in the development of the oil industry and the expansion of the oil and gas horizons of Russia.
“What is happening on the shelf today can be compared to Western Siberia 70 years ago, when people were just beginning to discover vast deposits of oil and gas,” she says. “Now the shelf represents the same prospects for us.”
Catherine's father died, so her mother took care of her upbringing. The girl had no idea that she would become a geological engineer at Rosneft. She had good grades in school, she studied singing and wanted to become a doctor. Thanks to her chemistry grades, Ekaterina got a budgetary position in geo-engineering at a local university and from the first week of classes she fell in love with this science.
Tyumen is 1700 kilometers east of Moscow, in the heart of Western Siberia. The city was founded in the 16 century, when the Russian Empire expanded its borders to the east of the Ural Mountains. Today, it is developing rapidly thanks to the oil and gas industry, and the average salary is higher than in other regions of Russia. There is no Moscow luxury here, but many cafes, restaurants and shopping centers are just what the wealthy young people need.
Catherine is not so often in bars and clubs. She even works a lot on weekends and often spends time with her mother Tatiana, with whom they sometimes go out for karaoke in the evening.
Catherine is worried about her mother, who tried her best to raise her and her stepbrother, who is now 14 years old. She worries even more about her grandmother, whose pension is about 200 dollars a month. Catherine can afford to help the family: she receives a salary in the amount of 700 dollars - slightly above the average monthly salary for young professionals in Tyumen.
“I think that Russia offers many opportunities for young people, but it completely forgets about older people who have worked all their lives for the sake of the state,” she says. “It is wrong that now the old people live so hard.”
She has not thought about how to vote in elections. According to her, she is likely to vote, but does not know for whom. Catherine believes that her voice is unimportant. “We know who will win, right?” She said.
Anastasia Reunova, Tyumen
27-year-old Anastasia Reunova is one of the few women working in the data analysis department of a large oil company in Western Siberia. When she studied at the university, teachers advised her to choose another profession, because this work was too hard for a woman.
She proved them wrong when she got a job in Salym Petroleum Developmentjoint venture Royal Dutch Shell and Russian Gazprom. Her career went up the hill. She worked in the Siberian wilderness, in the field office of the company of the village of Salym, next to which there is an oil field. The road to the village from Tyumen takes 14 hours. There, workers live in dormitories, but with modern amenities like gyms. “Within a month and a half of the watch, one can feel isolation from society, but the camaraderie is worth it,” she admits.
Worth the salary. Employees earn 1.5 times more on duty than at the Tyumen head office. After two years of monthly business trips, Anastasia was able to save up for a car and a down payment for a one-room apartment.
"Not bad, really?", - she asks about her new apartment, in which the repair is not finished. In her she will live with a young man and a half-year-old son.
Her mother could not even imagine such a life. The generation of Anastasia does not receive apartments and jobs from the state, as it was in the Soviet Union.
“We have to be more inventive and understand our own affairs, because the state no longer does this,” she said. - I think our generation is more self-sufficient. We have to make our own lives. ”
Anti-corruption protests that took place throughout the country in spring and summer did not cause much resonance here.
“Russia will always be Russia, with or without corruption. Everyone knows that it exists, - Anastasia admits. “But we cannot change anything, so we just accept it and live.” Our generation has managed to adapt to this. ”
Anastasia doesn’t know if March’s 18 will go to the polls, although she is attracted by advertisements conducted by local authorities to lure people to polling stations. “There will be incentive prizes, cakes and gifts, so ... maybe I’ll just go see what's there," she shared.
Supporter of bulk
Nikita Panfilov, Vladivostok
Volunteers from the Navalny headquarters in Vladivostok talk about cases of harassment by the police, like soldiers recalling past battles. Almost half of the ten volunteers sitting at the table were taken to the paddy wagons and kept in them for hours for participating in unauthorized protests. One of them spent three 20 days in prison. The apartment of another without a warrant was searched by police officers from the department for combating extremism.
Nikita Panfilov, a twenty-year-old volunteer, managed to avoid arrests for several months, but the time he spent waiting for his friends at police stations changed his view of the situation in the country. He became a loyal supporter of Navalny, whose sympathy for the youth throughout the country excited the Kremlin.
23 January, after 10 months after Panfilov became a volunteer of Navalny's headquarters, the police came to their office and took him to the police station for interrogation. They threatened to accuse him of trying to organize an unauthorized rally, but after a few hours they released him without charge.
“Surprisingly, I was not even nervous,” he wrote in Telegram after release. - Just been a little disappointed. Terrible things are happening. ” According to him, now the police are constantly worried about his parents and grandparents, he is worried about this.
Nikita was born and raised in Vladivostok, the main Russian port in the Far East. Residents of the city often compare it with San Francisco: it is also located on the hills and rests against the bay.
The city is also known for its slightly rebellious spirit - Vladivostok was one of the last in the Russian Empire supported by the Bolsheviks.
The region to which Vladivostok belongs is located on 6400 kilometers east of Moscow, on the border with China and North Korea. Ships from the Sea of Japan arrive at the city port, and then the cargoes head west along the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Nikita understands why his parents, who survived banditry, criminality and chaos in the turbulent post-Soviet years, consider Putin their savior. But now the consequences of Putin’s economic stability are faced with the desire of young Russians to change the future.
He notes that if you look around you can see traces of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The factories are idle, young people go to work in China or Korea. Some manage to move to Europe. According to him, the best Russian programmers work outside the country.
The world perceives Russia as one big gas station, he believes.
Nikita is studying Korean at a university in Vladivostok. In his free time, he often, hunched over, sits over a notepad in a one-room apartment where he lives with a girl, and draws graphic sketches in detail.
But he spends most of his free time at Navalny’s headquarters and helps collect signatures so that the opposition member can register his candidacy in the presidential election. Saturday mornings he often devotes to the distribution of leaflets in commuter trains.
Most of all Panfilova is worried that people are more likely to complain, and not to look for a way out of this situation.
"People will either live worse and continue to believe propaganda ... or their anger will reach such limits that a peaceful change of power will become impossible," he said.
"Present Tense" also talked to people who were born in 2000 year. We found them in completely different cities: Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Tagil and in small villages, as well as in different social groups.
Lizaveta Chernykh, a lawyer who collects things depicting Putin
Lisa studied law, but so far she helps her mother in her sewing business. And she collects the “Putin collection” - things with the image of the Russian president.
“It all started with notebooks. I bought notebooks, they were expensive, and decided: why not start collecting? And somehow this love was born, it came about by itself, ”she recalls.
The question of whom to vote in the March 18 election is not in front of Liza:
“For Putin. I wanted, honestly, to go in a T-shirt and wanted to do a manicure on purpose - with flags and with Putin. I did this already. Because this is the president of our country, he has done a lot for our country. Not only for our people, but also for other countries. Prevented some war, returned the Crimea, - lists the girl. - And in general: what he started, he must finish. And other candidates for the presidency will not do this, continue this business, they will pull something in their favor. ”
“He seems to be among the people, because his life was not easy either, and as he lived, he was not rich either. Therefore, I believe that he himself is close to the people, ”Lisa is sure.
She says she feels secure and even confident in Russia:
“After reading the news over the past year about what is happening in Europe, I believe that there is such a country where it is safest. All this, war, some people are fleeing abroad and all sorts of disorders begin. All suicide bombers, everything else, ”she lists.
Alexander Zaitsev, student volunteer from the headquarters Navalny
Alexander Zaitsev also likes in Russia. He studies in technical school as an electrician:
“I chose this specialty because it is in demand. Now we have a century of technology, there is electricity everywhere, I definitely will not stay without work, and at the factory it’s kind of presentable, ”he says.
Alexander grew up in a working-class area where there were always fights:
“Before that year, we were in conflict with the clapboard. Every summer every day, if we met someone from the wagon on the pond, the batch began. And everyone who was there, everyone participated in this fight, ”he recalls.
At the same time, he says that he does not want to change anything in his life in Russia:
“Everything suits me in Russia, I don’t want to change anything, I like stability,” says Alexander.
He tells that he is dreaming of an army and serving in special forces. He also took part in the “Forum for Working Youth” and personally saw Putin.
When asked what he is proud of in Russia, he lists: "The president, the country's foreign policy, armaments and the army."
Alexander Belyaev, the future electrician who dreams of going to the special forces
Alexander, the future electrician who dreams of going to special forces. He studies as an advertiser and works as a volunteer at the Chelyabinsk Navalny headquarters. He also invented and founded the organization “The Great Church of the Divinization of Information”.
“Initially, we wanted to register a social movement, but the government did everything on its part to tighten the registration procedure. And we realized that we cannot do this, ”he says. - And they decided to register something more - a religious association that the law allows us to do. It is much easier to do this than registering a youth movement. ”
Alexander tells us that because of his activism, he and his associates are constantly monitored by the “Eshniki”, employees of the Center for Countering Extremism of the Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia.
“I’m afraid, but I’m not broken, I want to continue my work. Because I understand that if there are no people like me and my friends, then our country will simply disappear, ”he says.
Elections March 18 Belyaev is about to boycott. “And I urge all my acquaintances not to go to them either,” he says.
Stepa Polovnikov, urban photographer, who was expelled from college for facial tattoos
Photographer Stepan Polovnikov is also not going to the polls. But for other reasons than Belyaev. “I don’t see any sense in this, since neither from my voice nor from the voice of other people, most likely, nothing will change. Elections, as for me, are needed, only to show that this is all like honest, ”he indifferently remarks.
Stepa says that his father is a machinist: “I worked all my life on the machines, now the factory drives the train back and forth, rearranges the cars. And my mother, honestly, I do not know who works. ”
At first, he also lived “like everyone else”: “I entered Revda as an auto mechanic, but then I went to try a designer for fun. I dreamed of getting a designer from the seventh class, but it seemed to me that I would not pass, - he says. - I started to learn. And in parallel with his studies, he “got clogged up” (he made tattoos - HB) and changed his appearance. ”
When Styopa got a tattoo on his face, the college management asked him to leave.
“And they did not suffer, and I could not bear the pressure from above, that this is wrong, ugly and uncivilized. And left, ”he says.
Now Styopa makes a living filming and dreams of becoming a famous photographer. His salary is about 15 thousand rubles per month, and he honestly admits that he sometimes steals clothes in stores:
“Everybody always steals, and I steal. All the clothes that are on me are either taken from people, well, or I go to the store and take it just by itself. ”
“I come to work and go home to bed. Work, sleep, work, occasionally meet a girl. Accidentally perfect. I wake up and just don’t know how this day will pass, whether I’ll stay alive at the end of the day, ”he notes without emotion.
Anna Nikitina, an athlete who dreams of being a coach, but so far she has been working two jobs to feed herself and her family
Anna, on the contrary, says that she really likes her life.
“My parents are simple: my mother does not work, my father works for a farmer. Their salaries are cheap. I help them, I work two jobs, she says. - I have a salary of 15 thousand: sufficient to provide for myself and my loved ones. Dad sometimes gets 8, and 5 has thousands — it depends on the season. ”
In the afternoon, Anna works as a salesman, and in the evening as an shooting instructor, but in the future she wants to enter the pedagogical institute and train athletes.
“I get up early, earlier than my neighbors, get dressed, go to work, I work until two. Then I go to ski practice. After training, I take things and go to the shooting range. Here I am up to 20.30, then I go home, ”Anna lists. - Honestly: tired. But I like it, although I just come exhausted. When a new day - I have new strengths, ideas, opportunities and everything again. ”
Anna says that she has always been an activist, and therefore 18 will be an election observer in March. She admits that she does not believe in the honesty of the elections: “It seems to me that everyone has already decided everything for us”. But it’s going to vote for Putin.
“Somehow we’ve got used to Putin, others I don’t consider candidates,” she notes.
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