How Tatarstan scientists felt nostalgia for USSR salaries and defended Putin’s ratings

Experts in social sciences studied their social feeling, while sociologist and political expert Boris Kagarlitsky commented on results

How Tatarstan scientists felt nostalgia for USSR salaries and defended Putin’s ratings Photo: Maksim Platonov

Scientists and specialists in social sciences of Tatarstan were asked to study the social well-being of scientists and specialists in social sciences. Like the cobbler's children go barefoot, researchers who usually study social moods of people know little about themselves. The results are quite curious: the paperwork concerns more than a low salary, they suffer from a lack of attention of authorities and feel nostalgia for classes with the regional committee. Realnoe Vremya tells the details.

Both assistants and professors had ''nothing to complain about'', only docents didn't

Scientists and specialists in social sciences of Tatarstan were asked to study the social well-being of scientists and specialists in social sciences. Like the cobbler's children go barefoot, researchers who usually study social moods of people know little about themselves. The situation changed in the Department of Methodology of Science, Social Theories and Technologies of the Penza State University. And Boris Kagarlitsky, sociologist, opinion journalist, director of the Institute of Globalisation and Social Movements, was asked to comment.

250 people participated in the research – experts in social sciences of almost all universities of the Republic of Tatarstan. But Kagarlitsky presupposed the results could be extrapolated to the rest of Russian universities excluding the Higher School of Economics and RANEPA. He didn't explain why those educational establishments were standing apart.

It turned out that scientists and experts in social sciences aren't real experts in social sciences. A third of them don't participate in social and political life. Lack of time is the main reason. What's more, they don't have the time for an additional job or tutoring – 40% claimed they didn't do any activity except teaching. It was a surprise for the researchers that the scientists thought an abundance of paperwork was the biggest problem, which exceeded even low salaries.

There are fewer women who are satisfied with their financial situation,'' says Anna Ochkina

''In the question about self-evaluation of the financial situation, mainly the answer ''enough for life but I don't feel freedom while spending'' was chosen. Only 1,7% of the respondents chose ''absolutely nothing to complain about''. Curiously, there wasn't found a close link with status. Both assistants and professors had ''nothing to complain about'', only docents didn't. But there is a clear correlation with gender– there are fewer women who are satisfied with their financial situation,'' says Anna Ochkina, head of the Department of Methodology of Science, Social Theories and Technologies of the Penza State University.

Experts in social sciences miss attention of authorities?

In answer to the question about cooperation with the regional authorities, the majority of the scientists replied ''it's needed and possible but it doesn't work''. It's almost a revelation if we consider that the Kazan Federal University has a council on social, political, ethnic and religious issues that does research twice a year ordered by the Tatarstan government. And the social experts' recommendation becomes the basis of state programmes, according to official documents. And the lecture was organised by the Department on Domestic Politics under the Tatarstan president. Boris Kagarlitsky supposed scientists and experts in social sciences miss the Soviet era and attention of authorities.

''The intelligentsia doesn't like the lack of attention, and it would like the authorities to express interest in the community. But if somebody undertakes this business and becomes too persistent, there will be a reverse effect,'' Kagarlitsky thinks.

Representatives of social departments were an ideological nomenclature in the Soviet era, reminded Andrey Tuzikov

His hypothesis was supported by Andrey Tuzikov, dean of the Faculty of Industrial Politics and Business Administration of the Kazan National Research Technological University.

''Representatives of social departments were an ideological nomenclature in the Soviet era. This disappeared one day, the entrance to the profession opened, agreement at the level of the regional committee disappeared. I remember Secretary of the regional committee Valeyev gathered experts in social sciences and gave them lessons. And the ''tribe'' joyfully welcomed the ''tribal chief'' and waited for instructions, mercy and well-being from him.''

The community of experts in social sciences felt their meaning by salary – a docent got 320 rubles, while the secretary of the regional committee – 250. The first secretary of the Tatar regional committee received 600 rubles, head of the department, professor, which is comparable to the republic's first person, – 500. And the load was lower than engineering departments: the head of the department had two lectures a week, he was 1-2 days at work,'' Tuzikov says.

This, by the way, can be considered a reply to Roman Belyakov's following statement, deputy head of the Department on Domestic Politics under the Tatarstan president: ''Why doesn't the young generation choose science? It used to be honourable.'' Only 35 people ''changed their mind'' in the entire Tatarstan Academy of Sciences – ''it's too little'', Belyakov thinks.

''Why doesn't the young generation choose science? It used to be honourable,'' Belyakov was thinking

''Putin isn't a pretender to the presidency or a candidate, he is Putin''

After establishing the diagnosis of the Tatarstan experts in social sciences who were found ''a feeling of melancholy, connectedness, impossibility of carrying out a mission'' and inclination to cooperation with the regional authorities, the scientists asked Boris Kagarlitsky questions. One of them wasn't about the research but was interesting from a perspective of the upcoming elections. Kagarlitsky's opponents were offended that the guest represented the community of experts in social sciences as ''amorphous and depressive'' and admitted that ''if not Belyakov, we wouldn't come to the meeting''.

''In an interview, you said Putin had a low rating. And if not forced, they wouldn't come to the meeting. There are people who asked invitations to get there (Editor's Note: Putin's visit with students in Kazan on 25 January was meant). Putin's rating that you give is 45%, it's lower than that of CIA, it doesn't reflect reality,'' one of the participants of the meeting was indignant.

''Putin may not have a rating. There is Putin and...'' 'emptiness' the hall helped. ''He is not compared to other characters, his rating is compared to politicians of the past – Lenin, Stalin, Nikolay. Putin isn't a pretender to the presidency or a candidate, he is Putin. What's the problem of the number ''45%''? Was it mentioned in the research of the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre? The population's trust in political life is reducing. It doesn't happen because it wants to take somebody over. It is just becoming apathetic,'' Boris Kagarlitsky thinks.

The scientist supposes serious changes in the political configuration of Russia will happen after the elections.

By Daria Turtseva. Photo: Maksim Platonov