I have spent the last several days on the West Coast, hanging out with a circle of journalists from around the world -- think Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa, etc.
As you would expect, when journalists get together it's rather common for us to talk about the news and, in particular, stories in major media that have captured our attention. #DUH
One of the stories that came up for discussion this week was a Washington Post feature that ran with this headline: "The Putin Generation -- Young Russians are Vladimir Putin’s biggest fans." The bottom line: That headline clashed with the impressions several of these journalists have had in the recent past while working in Russia or talking with Russia experts.
In particular (here comes the GetReligion "ghost"), several journalists wanted to know more about the role that moral, cultural and religious issues -- think LGBTQ questions, to name one example -- played in this equation.
To be blunt: The story contains no information on moral and religious issues at all. However, there is evidence that it should have.
Hold that thought, while we explore the overture:
KURGAN, Russia -- A young woman, riding a city bus to her journalism class, enjoys using the time to scroll through an independent news site that can be scathing in its reports on Russia’s authoritarian president -- leaving her to wrestle with a paradox, the paradox of her generation.
“What the Russian soul demands,” says Yekaterina Mamay, “is that there be one strong politician in the country who resembles a czar.”
In Russia’s upcoming presidential election, the 20-year-old student, who knows that journalism in her country is not free, will nonetheless vote to reelect Vladimir Putin.
Here, where the forest of the taiga meets the grassy steppe, the “Putin Generation” is no different from anywhere else across Russia’s vastness: coming of age without a rebellious streak. Today’s Russian young adults have no memory of life before Putin, who first took power as their president 18 years ago. Some have taken to the streets in protest, but social scientists say many more have grown to accept him. Polls show that Putin enjoys greater support among youth than among the public at large.
OK, I'll ask: What kinds of issues have driven young Russians into the street in the past? What Putin-era issues have they protested?