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The End of the Crimean Consensus: How Sustainable are the New Trends in Russian Public Opinion?

In: Russian Politics
Authors:
Anastasiya Nikolskaya Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Social Engineering Faculty, Kosygin Russian State University Moscow Russia

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Mikhail Dmitriev President, Commercial Partnership ‘New Economic Growth’ Moscow Russia

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Abstract

Since Russia’s takeover of Crimea in 2014 Russian public rallied around the flag and public opinion entered a relatively static state often called the “Crimean consensus”. The presidential elections of 2018 became a turning point in the dynamics of public opinion. Sociological data from that period reveals growing anti-establishment sentiments, demand for change, social justice, a peaceful foreign policy, and civic activism. To analyze these changes the study combines data from four rounds of focus groups with sociological surveys on the maturity of moral values and the perception of institutional injustice, conducted during 2018–2020. All sources of our sociological data demonstrate, that the main changes are associated with post-materialist values: demand for the rule of law, political rights and civic engagement prevails over concerns about basic consumption and material inequality. The data also reveals a value related rift between the ruling elites and the population. Whereas the population increasingly demands the rule of law and/or social contract, the ruling class, as the respondents perceive it, remains guided by interpersonal dealings and conformism. The essential role of post-materialist values in defining the new social agenda implies that the ongoing changes are not temporary and reversible but reflect a more fundamental process of transition to postmaterialist value system. However, given a short period of observations the available evidence is not fully conclusive. Data from the new round of European values study expected to be released before the end of 2020 can help clarify the dynamics of value change in Russia and its possible influence on the recent evolution of public opinion.

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