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Analysis & Opinion
28.12.09 The Decade In Trends
By Svetlana Kononova

The current decade that began on January 1, 2000 and that will end in a few days is said by many critics to have been an unexciting time for Russians, a time of stagnation characterized by its dearth of fresh ideas. This point of view, however, is contentious. New ideas can spring up at any time and under any conditions, even when the ground is frozen. And indeed, there have been new ideas that have changed the country and had an impact on the everyday life of Russians.

Society: Social Networking

The phenomenon of online social networking sprang up in the 2000s. These social networking sites have become popular everywhere in the world, but experts believe Russians have become more enrapt by them than other nations. According to data from comScore research company, the average Russian spends 6.6 hours social networking every month, the highest rate in the world. By comparison, Americans spend 4.2 hours on social networking sites every month, the French - 3.6 hours, and the Italians - 3.2 hours. The most popular networks in Russia are with 14 million users, with 7.8 million users and «Moj ?ir» with 6.3 million users. In fact, many Russians practically “live” in these social networks, probably because they are a cheap and accessible way to spend free time.

Jobs: New Horizons

In the 2000s the Russians have changed their job preferences. In the 1990s, the most popular professions were those linked to the banking and finance sphere, to politics and even to crime. Nowadays Russians have other dreams and goals.

A poll conducted by the recruitment website HeadHunter took sociologists and the public by surprise when it revealed Russia’s most-wanted jobs.

A majority of respondents found creative jobs the most attractive. They said they wanted to be designers, artists, writers or photographers.

Jobs as psychologists and business consultants became as sought-after as those in banks and big government-founded corporations such as Gazprom. Many respondents also wanted to change their full-time job status to freelance.

“Surprisingly, the crunch has had a positive impact on many Russians,” said Elena Smirnova from Profi Online Research, “some people are finding new, more interesting jobs or establishing their own businesses.”

Relationship: Collapse of the Traditional Family

Over the last decade civil partnership has become more popular in Russia than registered marriage, especially in big cities. About a third of children were born outside marriage in the 2000s. About 70 percent of marriages in Russia end in divorce, according to Goskomstat, the Federal State Statistics Service. In the 1990s the rate was about 50 percent. The average Russian family living in the city still has one child, meaning that the government’s provision of financial support for mothers has not led to a baby boom.

In fact, the Russian population is still decreasing, and experts from Goskomstat expect the trend to continue in the next decade.

Media: New Media’s Triumph

It is often said that Russia has lost the freedom of its press over the last decade. When official media became more restrained in its opinions and prognoses, the hub of up-to-date independent information drifted to a new media platform. Blogosphere is now a fresh source of news and opinion in Russia and it competes successfully with professional journalism. The most popular bloggers have an impact on public opinion, drawing attention to topics which are outside the interest of official media, glamour magazines and analytical newspapers. Moreover, a new trend is also emerging: video-rolls in blogs might replace television in the future.

Cinema: “Patriotic Films”

The Russian movie of the1990s was definitely the “black movie” with its cult portrayal of gangsters, godfathers, corrupted militiamen and glamorous women. However, these characters have almost died out in today’s Russian cinema. The latest trend is the patriotic movie which focuses on Russian history and its positive heroes. The film “Ostrov” (The Island) about a fictional 20th century Eastern Orthodox monk directed by Pavel Lungin won both the Nika Award and the Golden Eagle Award as “Best Russian film of 2006”. In another of his film dramas, “Tsar”, Lungin recounts the conflict between Ivan the Terrible and Philip II, Metropolitan of Moscow, in the 16th century, a film which became one of the main events at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

Language: Internet Slang

The Russian language has continued its evolution throughout the 2000s. Firstly, Russian has carried on borrowing foreign words, many of which have now become an important part of everyday speech. Most of them describe new features of the globalized world such as: professions - “realtor”, “manager”, “broker”; activities – “show”, “business”, “hobby”; or computer-related items – “printer”, “file”, “virus” etc. The second trend which has affected the Russian-speaking Internet audience is the so-called “olbansky yazyk” (“Olbanian language”, with “Albanian” misspelled). The term denotes the use of alternative, inconsistent spellings for words to derive a comic effect and it is developed from the “padonki” counter-culture subculture movement. So “Preved Medved” has become an iconic internet meme of the last decade.

Food: Oriental Fast Food

The pace of life in big cities has allowed fast food to stay popular. The trend was established in the 1990s when the first McDonald’s were opened in Russia and hundreds of people were prepared to stand in long queues for hours just to sample a hamburger – a symbol of Western world - which they had never tasted before. Nowadays McDonald’s chain restaurants are everywhere in Russia, but they are not as popular as they were ten yeas ago.

Now oriental fast food is all the rage. Sushi with rice and fish and California rolls with avocado, crab sticks and cucumber are now familiar dishes for everyone in Russian cities and towns. Meanwhile efforts to establish “traditional Russian” fast food chains have had some success, but these restaurants could never be called trendy places.

Music: Successful Commercial Projects

Russian music has become internationally recognizable in the 2000s for the first time in its history. In 2008, Dima Bilan represented Russia in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Believe”, accompanied by Hungarian violinist Edvin Marton and Russian Olympic and three-time world champion figure skater Evgeni Plushenko. He won first place in the contest, receiving 272 points.

The pop group “Tatu” with Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova has produced songs in English and sold millions of albums worldwide in the 2000s.

Nonetheless, this decade could be called an unsuccessful one for Russian rock music. The fresh ideas and non-conformist spirit of rock music in the 1990s has given way to more commercial “mainstream” music.

Fashion: Beauty and Comfort

In comparison with the 1990s, fashion in Russia has become less tyrannical. To look beautiful is still important, but dressing casual is not a crime anymore. Clothes and shoes have become more comfortable. “You rarely get entirely new ideas appearing in Russian fashion, but the retrospective reinterpretations of the 1960s and 1980s are sometimes very interesting and unusual,” said Galina Goreva, a fashion designer. And one thing that has dropped off the radar of Russian fashion is the crimson jacket, a symbol of the 1990s.
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