Fifty-six-year-old Aleksandr Avanesov says he will vote for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin because Russians have never had it so good. Eighteen-year-old Tatyana Kim says she will spoil her ballot because she sees Russian politics as a sham. Avanesov says the younger generation just doesn’t understand how bad the chaos and deprivation was in the 1990s before Putin came to power. Kim says she can’t abide Putin’s authoritarian system, adding that his so-called opponents on the March 4 ballot are little more than Kremlin puppets.
This intergenerational sparring between Avanesov, the director of a French choir in Moscow, and Kim, who is a member of that choir, illustrates a key fault line among Russians ahead of the March 4 presidential election. Many among Avanesov’s generation, fearful of the turmoil of the pre-Putin years, are willing to give the prime minister the benefit of the doubt. Kim’s generation, on the other hand, takes the stability and prosperity Putin ushered in for granted and wants his system modernized and democratized.