Staunton, August 29 – The three most important news items last week, two URA.ru journalists say, is that unemployment among Russians aged 15 to 24 years has risen 500 percent this year, that one in every three of them is ready to leave the country, and that ever more of them are animated by a sense of injustice about the way things are being done in Russia today.
Yelena Zhurvaleva and Kristina Busarova say that the explosive and unprecedented rapid growth of unemployment among young Russians is hitting those who come from poor families, those with many children or one parent missing, as well as those who have recently graduated from school or left orphanages.
One young unemployed Russian told them that he had not been able to find work for more than six months and that he fears even though he is “a qualified specialist” he won’t be able to get anything better than a low-paying job unless he can come up with the money for a bribe to get one for which he is qualified.
This young man added that dissatisfaction and anger are growing among young people like himself. According to him, the freeing of Yevgenya Vasiliyeva was the straw that broke the camel’s back: “Those who steal billions return to their state jobs,” but those who are law-abiding can’t even get a position after sending out “dozens of resumes.”
Gennady Gudkov, a former Duma deputy, said that it is clear that “the people has been impoverished, something especially obvious in regions where there is now a high level of unemployment, low incomes and a difficult situation in families with children. The purchasing power of citizens has fallen,” and stores are closing.
He told the URA.ru journalists that young people driven to desperation are given to “revolutionary” ideas and that “under certain conditions,” they will “take part in protest actions and seek to use radical means to express their dissatisfaction.”
Therefore, Gudkov said, “actions could occur in Novosibirsk, Tomsk, St. Petersburg, and locally in Moscow. Yekaterinburg is also a city known for its large number of students.” And according to him, they are angry about the Vasilyeva case, something he called the latest “public expression of [the authorities’] contempt for the people.”
Denis Volkov, a sociologist at the Levada Center, suggested that the regime might be able to avoid such protests for the time being because there is still a widespread sense that Russia is again “’a great power.’” But “if the current negative trend continues, the situation may be radicalized by 2018,” when he said he expected Russian dissatisfaction to reach its “peak.”
But he agreed that the freeing of Vasilyeva has added to popular anger about the destruction of food and convinced more people that the existing system is rigged against them and unjust.
A third expert with whom the URA.ru journalists spoke, Yaroslave Ignatovsky of the Polit Generation Analytic Center, said that one must keep in mind that there are two groups of young people now: those who are able to get good jobs and are pursuing advancement, and those who can’t and increasingly sense they have no future.
Ignatovsky says that those who are on the losing end will chose “internal emigration” in the short term, moving from one place to another in the hopes of finding work. But “if this continues for decades, a whole class of people will grow up who will not view the state as a form [within which they must live] and a generation of people who in general will spit on everything.”