Russians Don’t Want Leaders Who Resemble Intellectuals, Sociologist Says

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 20, 2018)

Vladimir Putin’s driving a truck across the Kerch Bridge, Aleksey Roshchin says, highlighted both the secret of the Kremlin leader’s popularity and the failure of his opponents to understand that reality, a failure that precludes their ability to cut into his support let alone challenge his leadership.

“For the population of Russia,” the sociologist says, “one of the most important criteria is that the tsar not be in any way like an intellectual.” Consequently, Putin wins by portraying himself as “a real man” who is ready to act the way those in the most masculine professions do (newizv.ru/comment/aleksey-roschin/19-05-2018/muzhik-v-chem-sekret-populyarnosti-putina).

Liberal Russian liberal bloggers, Roshchin continues, utterly fail to get this. They are laughing about Putin as a truckdriver, failing to understand that their jokes do not undermine Putin but instead strengthen him among the population which has always viewed intellectuals with suspicion and contempt anyway.

Russians view “‘intells'” as incapable of doing the most ordinary things and certainly incapable of doing anything that challenges the rules, he says. The two political figures Russians view as archetypical intellectuals are Mikhail Gorbachev and Yegor Gaidar, neither of whom is approved by “more than one percent” of the people.

Boris Yeltsin, in contrast, won more support, Roshchin says, precisely because he was not an intellectual in any way. And Putin has done the same as has been highlighted with the Kerch Bridge and his driving the truck across it. Unlike intellectuals, Russians believe, Putin wasn’t afraid in this case or others “afraid to violate the rules.”

That willingness to violate rules, the sociologist says, is a quality that anyone who wants to be a politician in Russia must have. It is an indication that Russia is “a wild country, but here there isn’t another one,” the sociologist continues.

“Putin and Yeltsin, each in his own way and each successfully brought to the masses the image of THE REAL MAN. Russians love them and forgive them for a lot. Everything else being equal, the real man will always defeat the Intell, and no support from progressive society will help.”

The real man can be defeated by only one figure, a saint who could “stop the Kamaz with his own body.” But at the present time, Roshchin says, none of them are visible in Russia “even on the horizon.”

[Article also appeared at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/05/russians-dont-want-leaders-who-resemble.html]