Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Andrey Zaostrovtsev (European University in St.Petersburg, Russia)

Why Russians Prefer Expansion to Consumption and Autocracy to Democracy?

In the twenty-first century Russia has become an autocratic power with unsatisfied geopolitical ambitions within the territory of the former Soviet Union. This transformation has a wide public support. In the opinion poll conducted by the independent Russian sociological organization Levada-Center (LC) in March 2015 only 2% of respondents definitely refused to support the annexing of Crimea and 6% answered "rather no, than yes". Meanwhile 52% definitely approved the capture and 33% answered "rather yes, than no". And this state of minds is not changed since March 2014, despite the fact that since August 2014 the share of those who did not experience any problems with food as the result of Russia's bans on food supply from the EU and US declined sharply from 63% to 38%. The key to this puzzle lies in the fact that Russians see territorial expansion as a public good that is to bring them prosperity in the future. And they are ready to sacrifice the present private goods for the sake of this future public good. This is reflected in the opinion poll in August 2014 where 85% of the respondents support the statement that "joining of Crimea to Russia is the great achievement of the Russian leadership, the positive effects of which will be felt in the future" (LC, 2014). The imperialist consciousness of the absolute majority of Russian citizens is clearly working to the benefit of autocratic rule. The ideology of Russia as a great power and of its higher mission ("the Russian world" and etc.), popular among the masses, raises the achievement of its proclaimed objectives to the level of ultimate values, and hence fully justifies an authoritarian form of government as a necessary and indispensable means of fulfilling these aims.