Staunton, August 25 – Many Moscow outlets are celebrating a Levada Center poll showing that Russians have become more tolerant to representatives of other nationalities, but Aleksandr Verkhhovsky of the SOVA Center suggests that this reflects less a real change of heart than the result of the impact of television messages.
He points out that the government has directed its powerful television outlets send a clear message that xenophobic attitudes are wrong because “they are destructive and give rise to conflicts,” something the Kremlin wants to avoid. People have learned that expressing such attitudes is now unacceptable (kommersant.ru/doc/3391603).
But Aleksandr Brod, head of the Presidential Council on Human Rights, is less upbeat. He says that everyday xenophobia continues but that “aggressive anti-Western propaganda forms a feeling of antipathy to the West up to the sense that we are living in a besieged fortress. That intolerance spreads to others,” including sexual minorities.