Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Ah… yeh… Putin's okay

Enthusiasm in Russian politics seems reserved for the opposition to United Russia. Can Putin even get the girl singers excited this time around?

A Rally for Putin, Enthusiasm Optional
With calls for workers’ unity and denunciations of the bourgeoisie, teams of mechanics, welders and heavy-machinery operators gathered here Saturday in subzero temperatures for a Soviet-style rally in support of Vladimir V. Putin. But that does not mean all were happy about it…

But even at an event intended specifically to bolster Mr. Putin, there was a notable lack of enthusiasm — even, now and then, notes of active dissatisfaction with him. It would be hard not to take it as evidence that Mr. Putin faces distinct challenges as he seeks to convince the country that he is fit to return to the presidency for a third term…

Many at the rally said life had improved significantly under Mr. Putin. Most could now afford cars and maybe the odd trip abroad. But there was little enthusiasm for the status quo, either. Pensions are low and salaries are not as high as many want. Some of the factory workers confessed fears about keeping their jobs as inefficient plants producing obsolete goods shut down in the demand for foreign products…

One thing most held in common here, however, was antipathy to revolutionary change, and they called on their more energetic countrymen in Moscow, who have frequently been painted as radicals and Western-backed agents, to allow things to evolve gradually.

“We’ve already had our shake-ups when we didn’t have anything and were hungry,” said Lidia G. Chistopolova, a 75-year-old pensioner. “Today, more or less, things are getting better. We can go to the store and buy what we want.”

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