Why Vladimir Putin should fear Russia's millennials: They bypass state-controlled media

Many of the participants on March 26 were, like Vyboch, young adults between 18 and 22, a new demographic of activism that sent shock waves through the Kremlin.

The youth turnout showed the Kremlin that its controlled messaging on state-owned and controlled television and news outlets had missed a new generation of Russians, who see YouTube and social media networks as their main source of news and entertainment, Orekhanov said.

Part of the success of Navalny’s YouTube channel, known as Navalny LIVE, is the star himself. At 41, Navalny isn’t just a talking head or an old-school politician. He doesn’t lecture, but instead gives straight talk in a way that is relatable to a younger generation, Orekhanov said.

“Traditional news is an old-fashioned concept to this generation,” Orekhanov said. “YouTube has become what television was to the older generations.”