The second large trend reshaping Russia's political landscape is the strengthening of numerous movements opposed to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin or the Kremlin. The periodic rise and fall of political dissidence is a Russian tradition. In the past decade, political sentiment has focused on Putin as Russia's "savior," a phenomenon that grew into something like a cult of personality centered on Putin. Now that Russia does not need saving anymore, though, the narrative has changed. Increasing dissent has garnered international media attention and prompted the Kremlin to take another look at politics on the other side of its high red brick walls.
Opposition political groups have strengthened and become important for numerous reasons. First, Russia no longer faces the threats of imminent economic collapse or major security issues. Second, Russia is undergoing a generational shift; the Soviet Union fell more than 20 years ago, which means the generation of Russians coming into their 20s now have a vastly different worldview from that of their predecessors. Furthermore, the increasing use of social media in Russia could be facilitating more efficient communication between and within dissenting groups.
Contributing to the dissent is a sharp increase in nationalism. Generally, over the past decade nationalist groups like the Kremlin-created Nashi youth group and Young Guard political group were considered favorable for Putin. However, in recent years, more extreme breeds of nationalists have re-emerged -- some who long for more traditional Russian values instead of the balance of policies Putin recently implemented. Ultranationalists wanting policies that limit immigration and Islam, the so-called Russia for Russians movement and others, are also growing.
The proliferation of groups that do not share the Kremlin's view has translated into large protests in the streets and losses for Putin's ruling party, United Russia, in recent parliamentary elections. Putin has begun taking these groups into account after largely ignoring them for the past decade and is shifting his policies to accommodate them. However, these anti-Kremlin groups must be examined individually to determine whether they can actually threaten Putin's hold on power.
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