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Journal section "Editorial"

“Intellectual Feebleness” of the Ruling Elites and the “Deep People” of the “Long State”

Ilyin V.A., Morev M.V.

Volume 12, Issue 2, 2019

Ilyin V.A., Morev M.V. “Intellectual feebleness” of the ruling elites and the “deep people” of the “long state”. Economic and Social Changes: Facts, Trends, Forecast, 2019, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 9-35. DOI: 10.15838/esc.2019.2.62.1

DOI: 10.15838/esc.2019.2.62.1

Abstract   |   Authors   |   References
In 2018, Russian society faced a contradiction, caused by the discrepancy between the official political rhetoric and the real actions of the Government. Instead of the priorities stated in the President’s Address to the Federal Assembly and in the “May decree” (reducing poverty twofold, Russia’s joining the top five economies of the world, etc.), the society was faced with the need to take a “bitter medicine” in the form of raising the retirement age. Moreover, the news about the changes in pension legislation reached the general public just after the inauguration of the President (the inauguration took place on May 7, 2018, and the draft law on the pension reform was submitted to the State Duma on June 16). The initial reaction to the pension reform was adamantly negative: according to the surveys conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation, almost 80% of Russians were against the reform. Over the following months, a wave of protests swept across the country and stopped only after Vladimir Putin made an official appeal to the Russian people on August 29 and explained that the pension system has to be reformed; he proposed some adjustments that would soften some conditions of the reform for certain population groups. However, despite the fact that the visible signs of public discontent (protests, critical articles, etc.) are gradually fading, the level of people’s support for the authorities, including the President of the Russian Federation, continued to decline; fundamental changes began to take place in the public consciousness, and such changes are of a long-term nature. This fact proves that the pension reform only triggered a more profound internal discontent that has been accumulating over the last years. Thus, at the beginning of 2019, the fundamental question concerning the legitimacy of power in Russia became one of the most pressing and urgent for society and authorities with regard to actual implementation of the tasks set out in the “May Decree”, qualitative growth of the standard of living and, by and large, preservation of the Russian statehood. A deep and ideologically saturated article of V. Putin’s personal adviser V. Surkov, which was published in February 2019, addresses this very issue (as some experts think), and it has caused a wide resonance in the academic, political and social environment. The following materials present our views on Surkov’s article and on a significant set of issues raised in it. The conclusions we come to are supported not only by the results of our own studies of the long-term dynamics of public opinion, but also by expert assessments, which largely reflect the real situation in the country

Keywords

public opinion, public administration efficiency, president, “long state”, “deep people”

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