A new generation of Russians, in their 20’s now, have grown up under the strong hand and watchful eye of President Vladimir Putin. Their lives have been shaped by economic expansion, autocratic rule, social media and a revived sense of nationalism— their parents in contrast struggled to stay warm in Soviet era food lines.
Never before have young Russians grown up with as much freedom as today. Socialism is something they only know from textbooks. They are using iPads, they love smartphones, and they go online every day. They hardly watch TV anymore. Instead, they spend their time in the free worlds of the Internet. Indeed, many lines are blurred between East and West.
However, to many the newfound riches are bittersweet. They fear that Russia is opening itself up to globalization and soul-less capitalism. It results in the rise of the nationalist movements. Others seek non-political thrills and escapes: skywalkers climb Russia’s highest buildings without safety gear, cosplayers hatch into comic and fairy tale figures and some enjoy sexcapades. Young people in particular say they want Russia to be seen as a global power and attend sports and military camps to learn how to handle weapons.
As diverse as they are, what unites Putin’s children is that they are less afraid than their parents but they are increasingly disillusioned. Few dream of democracy and a free press, many dream of a nationalist Russia. The pressing question is: will the Putin generation have the strength to break away from the top-down paradigm in place since the czars, that Russia is reformed from above and will they attempt to change the country from below? Read the full story here.