The All Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM) has reported the results of a nation-wide poll taken during May 24-27 (Russiavotes.org) Respondents were asked this question: “Do you consider that it is necessary to continue the military operation in Chechnya or to begin peaceful negotiations with the Chechen leadership?” The results:
–continue the operation, 31 percent–enter into negotiations, 62 percent–don’t know, 8 percent
That is, precisely twice as many respondents now favor negotiations as do those who want to continue military operations.
On May 13, the online daily Gazeta.ru wrote: “Inauspicious for the [Russian] authorities was a poll conducted by the ‘Public Opinion’ foundation. One thousand five hundred citizens were contacted by the poll. More than half of them–59 percent–answered that ‘they do not entertain any hope for the normalization of the situation in Chechnya in the near future.'” Only 27 percent of respondents thought there were reasons to “hope for a restoration of peace in the near future.” Noting that President Putin’s approval rating remains above 70 percent, Gazeta.ru remarked: “From this, one can draw one of two conclusions: Either the citizens approve endless war in Chechnya or they are resigned to it as an inevitable evil.”