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Tracking the Habits of the Russian Political Animal

TOL Talk: A Russian sociologist considers the divisions in his country and the chances for democracy to take root.

by Barbara Frye 29 February 2012

Most people who are interested in political reform in Russia are looking past this weekend’s presidential election, which – to go out on a very sturdy limb – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will win. On 27 February, TOL republished a commentary from openDemocracy considering who will be among the post-Putin generation of leaders. And in this edition of our podcast, TOL Talk, Denis Volkov, a pollster with the independent Levada Center, offers his thoughts on the political divisions in Russian society and what they mean for the prospects for democracy there.


Volkov says the impetus for reform, and its most likely champions, come largely from the civil movements that exist across Russia, from environmental groups to the so-called blue buckets, who affix blue buckets to the tops of their cars to protest the widespread abuse of blue emergency flashing lights by VIPs simply to make their way through traffic.


But for Russian politics to fundamentally change, Volkov says, it must become about ideas rather than personalities, and he is not optimistic that that will happen in the coming generation.




(Right-click here to download this podcast.)

Barbara Frye is TOL’s managing editor. Photo (“Putin’s Russia: United and Invincible”) by incandenzafied/flickr.

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