A recent poll by the Public Opinion institute found that Russian citizens have an extremely low level of faith in public institutions. The most trusted institution was the Orthodox Church, trusted by 54 percent of the respondents, followed by the army with 42 percent. Next came city mayors (35 percent), mass media (32 percent), governors (31 percent), courts (22 percent), police (19 percent), trade unions (19 percent), regional assemblies (18 percent), the federal government (11 percent), and, finally, the federal parliament (10 percent). (Kommersant daily, June 27)
The Russian pattern resembles East European countries in placing non-political institutions like the church and army at the top of the list. However, the general level of trust is much lower than in other countries: also noteworthy is that regional institutions score much better than national bodies. The low level of trust in political institutions helps explain why politics in Russia revolve around strong personalities, which in turn makes Russian politics highly unpredictable. The latest VCIOM poll showed that none of the potential successors to President Boris Yeltsin has a clear lead in public support. In the first round of a hypothetical presidential election, Gennady Zyuganov would lead – but with only 17 percent support, followed by Boris Nemtsov with 15 percent and Aleksandr Lebed with 12 percent. Either Nemtsov or Lebed would probably beat Zyuganov in a second round – but a second round between Lebed and Nemtsov would be too close to call. (Itogi, June 24)
Udugov Says Latest Round of Talks with Moscow Were "77 Percent Successful."