Staunton, April 12 – Sixty-one percent of Russians say they seek to avoid any contact with the government, and 52 percent say they do not want to participate in political life, according to a new Levada Center poll. Both these figures are higher than they have been and reflect a turning away from politics by ever more Russians.
In an article in today’s Kommersant entitled “A Non-Political Nation is Taking Shape in Russia,” journalist Liza Miller presents the results of this survey and speaks to two experts about the meaning of this pattern for Russians and the future of the Russian political system (kommersant.ru/doc/3268676).
According to Levada Center sociologist Aleksey Grazhdankin, “people do not see a direct connection between the results of elections and the changes which affect them personally.” Consequently, they are not inclined to participate either in political activity for or against the regime.
“As a rule,” he continues, “citizens are not active.” They focus on their own lives and view their political participation as being limited to voting. That is because “they recognize that politics above all depends on the president,” something that could push them in another direction if there were a plausible alternative candidate to the incumbent.
Thirty percent of Russians says that “politics is not for ordinary citizens; instead, it is the powers that take part in politics; 15 percent say politics is “a dirty business,” and five to six percent explain their possibility by saying that they don’t want to stand out of the crowd or be subject to persecution by the authorities.
Moscow political analyst Konstantin Kalachev adds that “the majority of citizens don’t know the formula that ‘if you don’t get involved in politics, politics will get involved with you.’” They want a paternalistic state but at the same time they don’t want to maintain contact with it or believe that even voting really matters.