Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 211

According to a poll carried out at the end of October, a majority of Russians do not believe that their country is a democracy. The poll, which was carried out by the All-Russian Center for Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), asked respondents whether they thought there was a “democratic society” in Russia today. Fifty-four percent answered “no,” 26 percent said “yes,” 20 percent said the question was hard to answer. On the other hand, a large majority of those polled said the believed their country now has a market economy. Asked whether Russia has a “market” and “market relations,” 61 percent answered in the affirmative, 27 percent in the negative, and 12 percent said the question was hard to answer.

At the same time, a majority of those polled expressed pessimism over the Russia’s overall course. Asked whether the country was moving in the right direction or up a blind alley, 28 percent picked the first, 52 percent picked the second, and 20 percent said it was hard to say. The breakdown of answers to this question was roughly the same as in polls carried out by VTsIOM in September and August of this year. However in May, June and July–that is, in the spring and summer months prior to the Kursk submarine disaster, the bombing at Moscow’s Pushkin Square and the fire in the Ostankino television tower–the number of respondents expressing pessimism was considerably lower. On the other hand, 44 percent of those questioned said they had adjusted to the changes which had occurred in Russia over the last decade, while 31 percent they would never adjust, 20 percent said they would adjust in the near future, and 5 percent said it was hard to say. Forty-six percent of those polled said the situation with payment of salaries, pensions, stipends and allowance in their regions or cities was getting better; 16 percent said it was getting worse; 33 percent said they had noticed no change in the situation; and 6 percent said it was hard to answer the question. But while a plurality of those questioned expressed optimism concerning payments, the number of optimists in this area was down considerably from polls carried in March, May and June of this year.

VTsIOM carried out this latest poll October 27-30 among 1600 people in thirty-three of the country’s eighty-nine regions. The poll had a 3.8 percent margin of error (Russian agencies, November 9).