A taste for political activity is awakening in the young, and rekindling among the older generations who were pacified by the trauma of 2012-2013, when the authorities stifled protests and Putin gathered strength.
For five years, the authorities responded to protests with the politics of fear. And they continue to do so. The police and special services are intimidating many activists, threatening them with a loss of their jobs, and students with expulsion from universities. But this tactic may not work.
What do the protesters, and youth, in particular, want today? They want a real fight against corruption, not a fake one. They want a changeable government. School children interviewed by the Russian press said they have never seen anyone other than Putin in charge of Russia, and cautiously hinted that, without the possibility of change, there would be no development in the country. Those feelings were common to the majority of the protesters.
The youth have legitimate concerns. The authorities have provided no positive vision of the future, and so why should they support another Putin term? Secondly, they feel that rules and institutions are more important than political leaders. Finally, they have grown resilient against the politics of fear. The younger generations are tired of rhetoric about external enemies and internal fifth columns, they distrust the idea that the regime is ‘protecting’ them from anything.