Between hope and skepticism in Russia | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 06.05.2012
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Between hope and skepticism in Russia

How do young people in Russia see the future of their country under a 'new' President Vladimir Putin? DW used a video blog to talk with youth from across Russia about their expectations before Monday's inauguration.

Young Russians have been voicing their opinions for months to DW about where they see their country headed and what they think about developments abroad as part of the project Generation 2012.

Predictably, opinions are divided. Now that Putin has been elected, many believe the future of the country for the next six years has more or less been decided, saying that political and social developments will be put on hold.

Others, however, say they are pleased about there being no shift in power at home. They approve of the fact that the protests against the electoral process in the parliamentary and presidential polls did not spark a revolution.

Yulia Rubzova

Yulia Rubzova: People have returned to everyday life

What's left of the protests?

Opinions on what significance the parliamentary and presidential election protests will have going ahead are similarly divided.

"The people who took part in the demonstrations and supported the opposition have returned to their everyday lives," said Yulia Rubzova from Nobosibirsk. The 24-year-old web marketer said everyone is waiting to see what happens, "but you'll see hardly anyone continuing to fight."

Mikhail Shukov from Yaroslavl can easily imagine that the government will provoke further protests and activities from the population.

Mikhail Schukov

Mikhail Schukov hopes for renewed dialogue

"Maybe the government will head up a productive dialogue about where our country and society are going," the 34-year-old head of a youth center said. He believes the decisive question is what remains of the protestors' spirit - whether, for example, they will form themselves into civic groups that advocate for people's rights. But Shukov does not foresee any quick changes ahead for the Russian people.

Hoping for more opposition

Fundamental change is not to be expected under Vladimir Putin, said Yulia Sheffer, a 25-year-old studying public management in Berlin. She would like to see the opposition get together to come up with an alternative political program.

Yulia Sheffer

Yulia Sheffer: Putin will usher in no major change

"For many voters, what is missing is a real political alternative to the Putin regime. I wish that things would be interesting again for the voters and the opposition because in recent years, it has always been clear who will win," Sheffer said.

Alexander Gussev from central Russia believes Putin stepping back into office could easily give the opposition new reason to take to the streets.

"The opposition movement will grow, and intelligent and successful people will join its ranks. Moscow and St. Petersburg will be the centers of social and political progress, as they have always been in Russian history," said the 24-year-old political science major.

Pavel Mylnikov

Pavel Mylnikov: Russia will not come to a stand-still

Pavel Mylnikov is also not convinced that Russia will fall into a stalemate. He thinks the consequences and developments from the last six months will not simply be held back, even by Putin.

"Putin will not have six years in office - either he will leave office early or people will chase him out," Mylnikov said.

Divergent expectations

Not all young people see the protests positively. Anastassia Trubnikova was pleased to see that the demonstrations never turned revolutionary, offering an optimistic view of the future.

Anastasia Trubnikova

Anastasia Trubnikova looks ahead with optimism

"I think that after the elections, nothing will be the same as it was before," said the 22-year-old, who is majoring in European studies in Flensburg, Germany.

"Everything will change slowly and head in the right direction," she said.

Mikhail Makarov is also optimistic, saying it is good that power did not shift hands during the presidential election.

"Maybe it is good that we're staying on the path we've been on for more than ten years," said the 31-year-old from Shakhty in southern Russia, who works in marketing. "That does not mean that a phase of stagnation will follow," he added.

Oleg Neumyvakin from Novosibirsk takes a different view.

Oleg Neumyvakin

Oleg Neumyvakin has a dim view of Russia's prospects under Putin

"There will be no positive developments. Economic and social miracles are not to be expected from this head of state," said the 26-year-old. He regrets that no new people have taken power in Russia.

"We've seen all of this already in the last 12 years," said the IT specialist, who believes neither the president nor the Duma were legitimately elected by the people.

"The fraud was so apparent and cynical that you can hardly talk about legitimacy."

Taken together, the young people's views reflect the country's mixed expectations for President Putin. But most of the participants in the DW project agreed that Russian society stands before enormous challenges.

Author: Markian Ostaptschuk / gsw
Editor: Gregg Benzow

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