Thursday, January 29, 2015

Russians Say International Isolation Fine But Lower Incomes and Loss of Internet Access Aren’t

Paul Goble


            Staunton, January 29 – According to a new study conducted by the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russians are “prepared for economic isolation from the West but are against lower incomes, higher taxes,” or being cut off from access to the Internet, “Nezavisimaya gazeta” reports today.


            Mikhail Sergeyev, that paper’s chief economics reporter, says that the study shows that the majority of Russian citizens are ready to give up using foreign currency, making trips abroad, using bank cards, and purchasing foreign goods and that they expect they may have to for a lengthy period (


            The only exception to this list of self-imposed limitations concerns the Internet and social networks. Nearly half say that they are not prepared to stop using the web, although a majority indicates that it is willing to live with some restrictions. Twenty-two percent of the sample said they don’t use the Internet now, and 37 percent said they would be willing to stop using it.


            Moreover, the study found that Russians are very much opposed to any decline in their incomes and benefits or any increase in taxes and fees. Fewer than one in eight supports such ideas. Russians overwhelmingly support their government in its struggle with the West, but they oppose “attempts by bureaucrats to shift budgetary problems onto the shoulders of citizens.”


            “Almost half of the respondents, Institute director Mikhail Gorshkov said, “agree that the country faces difficult times ahead,” although a quarter say that “the country is developing successfully,” and another quarter say that they do not expect “any significant changes in the development of the country.”


            Gorshkov stressed that over the last year there has been a fundamental shift in Russian assessments of the source of threats to Russia. A year ago, he says, most viewed any threats as being internal, but now they view them as coming from abroad, with only 18 percent saying there are threats from within the country.


            The study suggests that only the very top of society has been much affected by sanctions but that most Russians have been touched by changes in the exchange rate which have sparked inflation and forced Russians to cut back in their spending on recreation, food, clothing, and medicines but led others to purchase goods out of fear that prices will rise still further.

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