Gennadi Podlesny, president of the Centre of Applied Social and Political Science, member of the Expert Council of the Russian Government, speculates about the most important trends of another year coming to a close.
Q.: What domestic issues were the most important ones for the Kuban region?
A.: First of all, 2016 was a year of State Duma election campaign. Duma elections occur once in five years, and this time we did not see any loud scandals or attempts to swing the boat of the country’s domestic policy. Our Centre was involved in the monitoring of the United Russia’s primaries first, and then of the election itself.
Q.: However, there were other significant events, including protest actions. That is why, the Internet joke “‘The year ’16 was so-so, let’s hope ’17 will be better,’ subjects of the Russian Empire thought a hundred years ago” [but it didn’t - 1917 was the year of two revolutions in Russia, including the Bolshevik one] remains a topical issue. Are there any preconditions that protest sentiments in the Krasnodar region will grow in 2017?
A.: Despite the jocular beginning of your question, it looks very serious indeed. In my opinion, both regional and federal authorities tend to underestimate the danger of protest sentiments. Otherwise, some of the current pressing problems would be resolved rather than merely whittled away without making any efforts to resolve them. Catching up a New Year tradition, I would make a jocular forecast: next spring we would see not only snowdrops but also farmers’ protests (the ‘tractor drivers’ have already announced that a new march on Moscow would take place in the end of March), green zone defenders, and so on. The forecast looks even more probable bearing in mind the upcoming election to the regional Legislative Assembly - the election campaign would most probably ‘revive’ after the February holidays.
Q.: The Centre of Applied Social and Political Science runs regular surveys of the sentiments of the Kuban people. How did their political assessments and preferences change in 2016?
A.: There were no cardinal changes. It is rationalism and pragmatism that remain to be our people’s characteristic features, which fact has been proved by the latest Duma election and a series of local and regional election campaigns.