Russian Nationalism among Young Very Different than Among Older Groups, Sociologist Says

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 6, 2016)

Relatively few young people in the Russian Federation are attracted to Russian nationalism of the traditional kinds, Vladimir Petukhov of the Moscow Institute of Sociology says. Instead, they manifest what might be called “young nationalist views.”

In a 2014 study on youth attitudes in Russia and China that has been summarized by Pavel Pryanikov this week at, the Moscow scholar suggests that Russian nationalism among the young in his country is “radically different than traditional imperial nationalism.”

It includes “a high level of rejection of the present-day Russian state and its organs, a negative attitude toward the ideas of internationalism, and an orientation toward informal self-organizing structures.” One could describe it has “‘nationalism for oneself,’ in contrast to messianic Russian nationalism of previous eras” which call for Russians to sacrifice themselves for a Third Rome or the Third International.

According to Patukhov’s research, only six percent of those surveyed call themselves supporters of the idea of “‘a special Russian path of development'” although “almost a quarter” find the idea of “‘Russia for the Russians'” attractive, less than the 37-38 percent who back internationalist values, a figure far less than among their parents.

The Moscow sociologist says that “the main thing which distinguishes the present generation of Russian youth from the rest of the population” is that it is the first that has not had to adapt to new, post-1991 conditions, because for its members, those are the only conditions they have known.

“If older generations of Russians have experienced periods of social-political growth,” Pryanikov summarizes Patukhov’s findings, “today’s youth are divided and atomized.” And they are not members of groups along the traditional ideological spectrum. Only 16 percent fall into one of them, but most say they aren’t in any – or can’t say.

In contrast to their parents, they are prepared to work for themselves and their own interests but they have little interest in solidarity with others. Instead, they are focused on private life and conceive freedom “exclusively in terms of the freedom of individual choice” rather than as a value for society as such.

They thus view democracy instrumentally as something that they think is necessary as long as it delivers the goods rather than as a value in and of itself. And consequently they remain skeptical about it. They are strikingly tolerant of action by others who are ready to engage in political struggles even though most are not interested in doing so themselves.

Thus, majorities consider unsanctioned meetings, blocking of roads, and hunger strikes acceptable. And large pluralities consider internet hacking, dissemination of extremist ideas via the Internet and even the formation of bands and seizure of buildings acceptable, again far more than their parents.

[Article also appeared at]