Kagarlitsky Surprised Only One Russian in Four Considers Himself a Victim of Perestroika

Kremlin and River

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, October 21, 2019)

Left-wing sociologist Boris Kagarslitsky says he is surprised by VTsIOM’s finding that only 25 percent of Russians consider themselves “victims of perestroika,” with the number ranging from 37 percent among those 60 and over down to eight percent among those aged 18 to 24.

In his view, Kagarlitsky says, the share of victims of “the greatest geopolitical disaster” of the 20th century, to use Putin’s words, was much larger, although he acknowledges that a very small share of Russians benefitted from the destruction of the Soviet system and ultimately the USSR (nakanune.ru/articles/115565/).

Materially, the average Russian lived better after perestroika than before, albeit with far greater income and social differentiation, but almost all “lost morally in self-respect and status.” What is the main thing, the sociologist continues, is that “they lost their hopes for a better future” and they became fearful that anything intended to make things better could make things worse.

“Perestroika killed hope,” Kagarlitsky says, because it promised so much” that its failure to do so made society suspicious of any change at all. It is this on which Russia’s current powers that be rely, “on the state of post-perestroika shock when people are deeply convinced that ay changes can lead only to something worse and therefore it is better not to change.”

Instead, Russians have concluded that they must adapt to whatever conditions they find themselves in, however bad. This is really horrific, the sociologist argues, “because [as a result, Russians] are not prepared to change things” that should be changed.

He adds that when people say they are victims of perestroika what they really mean is that they are victims of the twin results of that program, the destruction of the Soviet Union and the introduction of capitalism. Most Russians feel the first was a disaster, but opinion about the latter is more divided.

One of the upshots of the VTsIOM poll was a proposal by Boris Chernyshov, a Duma deputy, to create a special class of Russian citizens who are victims of perestroika and then offer them some kinds of compensatory benefits. What those might be, he didn’t specify, but his proposal no doubt will increase the number of Russians who feel they are victims of perestroika in order to get what benefits they can from that (ura.news/news/1052403980).

[Article also appeared at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/10/kagarlitsky-surprised-only-one-russian.html]