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Article

The Middle Class and Democratisation in Russia

Europe-Asia Studies. 2015. Vol. 67. No. 2. P. 269-284.
Gontmakher E. S., Ross C.

IN DECEMBER 2011, ‘A VOLCANO OF SOCIAL ACTIVISM THAT had long been dormant started to erupt in Russia’ (Petrov 2012). A tidal wave of mass protest movements swept through the capital and then engulfed scores of Russia’s regions. These demonstrations came as a great shock to the Russian leadership. After decades of the passive acceptance of the status quo it appeared that civil society was at last wakening up, and that it was members of a rising middle class which were at the forefront of the protests against the regime. As Aron observed, ‘No longer burdened with providing for the basic needs of their families and now enjoying perhaps unprecedented, for Russia, personal freedoms and prosperity, the middle class’s more socially active members appear to believe they are entitled to become stakeholders in a functioning, fair, and less corrupt state’ (Aron 2012, p. 4)