Russia's Middle Class: at the Centre or on the Periphery of Russian Politics?
The peaceful demonstrations in the wake of the Duma elections on 4 December 2011 came as a surprise not only to the international public but also to the Russian leadership. The obvious discontent of the urban population and their demand for fair elections and more political participation sheds new light on Russian society. After years of political apathy a new social stratum, often categorised as the ‘Russian middle class’, seems to be emerging. This may form the crucible for more profound political changes in the future. At the same time, however, there are doubts as to whether and on what basis a middle class in Russia can actually be said to exist. This paper investigates the development and current situation of Russia’s middle class from an economic perspective and draws some conclusions as to its political outlook and potential for change.