Vladimir Putin 'may be toppled by millennial uprising' claim Russian opposition figures
The strongman president of Russia turns 68 today, but his birthday is being marked by violent opposition to Russian "interference" across his sphere of influence from Belarus to Kyrgyzstan
Young people across Russia and its neighbours could overthrow Vladimir Putin's regime, a group of Russian opposition figures have claimed.
The president of Russia turns 68 today, but this year's birthday will not be an easy one to celebrate.
His country is in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic, while, across Russia's sphere of influence, opposition to Russian "interference" is growing.
The past few months have seen uprisings in Belarus, Ukraine, and now Kyrgyzstan, while in Armenia and Azerbaijan, a proxy war appears to be taking place over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, dragging in Russia and her neighbours.
Now, three Russian opposition figures have claimed that Russia's young people could overthrow Vladimir Putin, bringing his quarter of a century of influence over Russian politics to an end.
According to polling, in recent years, younger Russians have become the group most dissatisfied with Russia's political system.
Writing for the news site Foreign Policy, Maria Snegovaya from the Centre for European Policy Analysis and Denis Volkov and Stepan Goncharov from Moscow's Levada Centre, have laid out what they think it would take to topple Putin.
The authors explained that Russia's small population of young people - following decades of low birth rates - could be the reason that there has been now prominent opposition to Putin.
But, the team's research found: "Russians aged 16 to 34 are the most entrepreneurial, pro-Western, and tolerant cohort in the country.
"They also hold less paternalistic attitudes than the rest of the population, and the number of Russians below the age of 25 who prioritise human rights is almost twice as high as the number of those who prioritise state interests.
"The opposite is true among older Russians."
Polling has found that Russia's declining living standards in recent years, including a drop in incomes as well as a rise in the retirement age, has led to young people being the most critical of Putin's rule.
A July study found 62% of young Russians aged 18-24 believe Russia is heading in the wrong direction.
The piece claims young Russians are more exposed to the internet and social media, while sites such as YouTube have given opposition figures including Alexei Navalny more of a platform.
Social media allows acts of state violence, such as the assault of young woman protester Daria Sosnovskaya, who was kicked in the stomach by a police officer, to reach a wider audience.
The clip has already racked up more than 700,000 views on YouTube.
Younger Russians are also more positive towards the United States, the study found.
The piece's authors conclude that 2024's upcoming elections in Russia could pose a major challenge to Putin, as the younger generation become more politically aware.
They found that Russians who speak foreign languages and who have travelled abroad tend to be more anti-Putin as well.
"The exposure to different values, norms, and ideas from other countries changes people's perception of the way things should work domestically," they wrote.
"This suggests that fostering educational exchange programs in the United States may be one way to spur political activity among young Russians."