76% of them, to be precise (Levada polling). This is not surprising to close observers of Russian society but even apparently obvious things need to be repeated now and again.
But what is more remarkable is that this figure has almost never been higher, especially compared to the glorious 1990s that Russian liberals love to praise so much. Here is the net percentage of Russians saying they feel themselves to be a “free person in our society” over the past 25 years ago.
Is this a function of the all-encompassing power of pro-Putin TV?
In actual fact, Russia has long since become an Internet society – penetration is now around 70%, which is no different from almost all of the rest of Southern and East-Central Europe. And the Russian Internet is, rhetoric aside, almost entirely unregulated. If you want access to the most unapologetically anti-Putin and pro-Western news source, any number of them are a mouseclick away.
So it must be doubly crushing to people who imagine Russians living in fear under the shadow of their ruthless authoritarian regime to learn that there is essentially no difference in responses to this question between people who get their news from TV versus the Internet.
This is the context in which Khodorkovsky’s renewed energetic agitation for the “inevitability” of a Russian revolution must be viewed.