The speed of the backlash building against Russia’s paramount leader Vladimir Putin following this week’s parliamentary elections has taken investors by surprise and sent the country’s shares and rouble down sharply lower.
Comparisons to the Arab Spring may be tempting, given that the demonstrations in Russia are also spearheaded by Internet-savvy youth organising via social networks.
But Russia’s economic and demographic profiles suggest quite different outcomes from those in the Middle East and North Africa. The gathering unrest may, in fact, signal a reversal of fortunes for the stock market, down 18 percent this year, argue Renaissance Capital analysts Ivan Tchakarov, Mert Yildiz and Mert Yildiz.
First of all, Russia’s youth unemployment rate is relatively low at 14 percent, compared to Syria’s 18 and 30 percent in Tunisia.
Secondly, the percentage of young men as part of its rapidly ageing population is low — those aged 15-29 account for 11 percent in 2009 versus a range of 13-17 percent in its fellow oil-exporting peers in the Middle East. This is particularly significant since the relationship between a country’s political stability and its proportion of angry young men has been well elucidated.