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How supporting Putin has divided families in Russia

How supporting Putin has divided families in Russia

It is always difficult for Russian voters to express their opinion publicly, for fear of punishment for speaking their mind.

But a Czech TV station asked Russians to give their opinion on the presidential election, expected to end this Sunday, with a triumphant re-election for President Vladimir Putin.

Support for the Russian president divides Russian society. Children often have completely opposite views to their parents.

Freelance actor, Pavel Kipriyanov says "If we talk in general about the path chosen by my country and my government, well, I understand it perfectly, I accept it, except for certain things that may not suit me. But generally speaking, I'm happy with the direction my country is taking and I think it's great."

His wife, Milena Shikina, goes on to say: "Well, it seems to me that it's been since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 90s, when the country wasn't in the best of shape and was in fairly serious decline. And then Putin came along and the way our country lives today. I think it's a good result."

Many factors can explain this behaviour, says Russian sociologist Lev Gudkov. But when it comes to young people, Gudkov believes "they have lost their understanding of the Soviet era. They have no experience of it and have nothing to compare it with. They have been brought up, you might say, under Putin, and they know nothing else."

It's not as simple as a generational gap. Of the thousands of voters who have decided to leave Russia over the last two years, many have been young men, determined to escape the regime and conscription to fight in Ukraine. But, proportionally, many were unable to leave, while others chose not to leave their homeland. So why vote for Vladimir Putin in spite of everything?

Milena's father, for his part, is an outspoken opponent of the Moscow regime. But Artur Shikin, a building contractor, had to flee Russia and take refuge in Georgia. His opinion is clear-cut. "There are 150 million people, can't they oppose it? It's like with Stalin: people said that Stalin was responsible for everything. But at the same time, one third of the population imprisoned another third of the population and kept them in prisons, all that was done by people."

As for older voters, Gudkov also has an explanation. "Under Putin," he explains, "the idea of the future has disappeared. People have no image of the future and, as a result, there are no guidelines for development. That's what propaganda is saying: preserve the present".

One thing is almost certain: recent surveys have shown that the majority of Russian citizens are loyal to Putin, with support at around 70% compared with 20% for the opposition - although these figures are hard to verify.

Two-thirds of this same population wholeheartedly accept the information put out by state television and the pro-Kremlin media. But is it out of conviction or abnegation?