The transformations in Russian society in recent years have been striking and in many ways paradoxical, especially in the context of the Ukraine crisis and Crimea.

Despite the biggest fall in income since 1998, Russians show a high level of optimism about the future, and President Putin’s approval ratings have skyrocketed. While transitioning from the “fat 2000s” to the current economic downturn caused by low oil prices and Western sanctions, Russian society went from the “white ribbon” protest movement of 2011-2012 to political indifference and civic apathy.

Can this all be explained by domestic propaganda and the authorities’ grip on public debate? How genuine are these approval ratings and where are they coming from?

This Russia Direct report draws a much more complex picture than presented in the mainstream media and comes to unexpected conclusions.

Video by Pavel Gazdyuk

In the first part of the report, Svetlana Bardina, Victor Vakhshtayn, and Pavel Stepantsov look into the reasons behind the surprising optimism of Russians during a period of crisis. Ivan Tsvetkov then takes a deeper dive into the ideological transformation taking place in Russia today. His main focus is on the so-called “conservative revolution” that drives Russians further from the West.

Vasil Sakaev examines the influx of refugees from Ukraine and tries to predict the upcoming social dynamics of this new challenge, while Yury Korgunyuk looks into the main divides in Russian society in an effort to predict further social unrest.

Finally, this report features an interview with Andrei Kolesnikov of the Carnegie Moscow Center as well as analysis of the latest public opinion numbers reflecting the hopes, fears and aspirations of Russia’s population.

Buy for $4.99