Russians Remain Too Atomized and Lacking in Empathy to Make a Revolution, Kirillova Says

File Photo of Revolutionaries Marching in Moscow in 1917, adapted from image at

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 2, 2017)

Many nations facing the difficulties #Russians now are would #revolutionary change [sic], but Russians are unlikely to do so, Kseniya Kirillova says, because they remain far too atomized and far too lacking in empathy to look beyond their immediate personal problems and identify with the problems of others.

The US-based Russian analyst is taking issue with this author’s assertion on the basis of several Moscow analysts that Russian government attacks on the khrushchoby and thus the principle of private property “offends not only the immediate victims but also all Russians” (

In her article entitled “Why There Won’t Be a Revolution in Russia,” Kirillova says that “unfortunately,” Russians seldom display empathy to others who are suffering from problems but only focus on their own and thus won’t join in any mass protest against injustices done to others but not to them (

And thus, instead of protesting, they display an “almost suicidal level of conformism” which leads them to desire not to change the situation but rather to find a way a to restore “a sense of lost comfort, a feeling of being defended and stability at any price,” all things the authorities can and do exploit.

That in turn leads to a situation in which after a relatively brief time, the Russian commentator says, the population “little by little” comes to view whatever has been done as “correct, true, and having been undertaken for its own good,” as long as its members do not suffer directly.

That pattern now on display concerning the apartment blocks in Moscow was earlier followed in the case of the regime’s burning of food products that it had banned. Despite the importance of food for Russians, very rapidly they came to accept this as an utterly normal part of life and one taken for their own good.

In the current case, Kirillova continues, “the majority of Muscovites thought not about their rights or about the attack on private property or anything of the kind.” Instead, they focused on how to avoid having their own apartments not fall victim to the program and how to come out on top if they couldn’t achieve that.

As she observes, “Russians are accustomed to the idea that in their country almost anything can happen at any time and that if today something doesn’t happen to them that seems to most as a sufficient basis for happiness.”

That means that Russia is far from a social explosion but such a thing is possible there only “when arbitrary action sand deprivations concern everyone or practically all Russians without exception.” Until that happens, few not affected directly by any issue are likely to stand up for those who are.

Indeed, it is sadly the case that many Russians outside of Moscow instead of being angry at what is being done to the residents of the capital are displaying a certain Schadenfreude about what the Muscovites are having inflicted on them.

For this to change, Kirillova concludes, the Russian opposition should focus its efforts not on Ukrainians or emigres and call on them to take part in Russian demonstrations but rather “in the first instance try to convince Russians themselves to show solidarity with their own fellow citizens and support their protests,” as difficult a task as that in fact is.

The author of these lines can only agree with Kirillova, with two caveats. On the one hand, there are certainly more cases of solidarity in Russia today than in the past and so things are moving, albeit slowly, in a positive way. And on the other, revolutions typically are made not by majorities but by committed minorities. Those Russia would seem to have in abundance.

[Article also appeared at]