Friday, November 25, 2016

When Things are Bad, Russians Become More Dependent on and thus Supportive of Those in Power, Expert Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 25 – The failure of pollsters to predict the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential elections has sparked new questions about the reliability of polls in the Russian Federation, especially because they show approval for that country’s leaders to be rising even as the standard of living of the population falls.

            But that is not the contradiction many assume, sociologist Leonty Byzov says. Rather ir reflects the reality that, despite what many think and expect, “approval or disapproval of the activity of the leadership of a country does not always correspond with how things are going in that country” (

                Byzov, who is not only a senior scholar at the Moscow Institute of Sociology but also on the scientific advisory council of VTsIOM, tells Svobodnaya Pressa’s Aleksey Polubota that often “when the situation gets worse, people feel their dependence on the authorities and approve all their actionsif they do not lead to complete destabilization.”

            At the same time, the sociologist continues, “Putin’s high ratings today do not mean that everyone is well inclined toward him. When we conduct deeper interviews, to determine attitudes toward the president, it has turned out that about 40 percent of the population is sympathetic to his personality and activity.”

            The rest – that is, the other 50 plus percent – “simply understand that Putin is a guarantor of a definite stability and approve his activity only in the sense that they do not want destructive changes of the kind which they have had to deal with in our history over the last several decades.”

            As for the relatively positive assessment of the Russian government as an institution, Aleksey Zudin of the Moscow Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Research tells Polubota that Russians had expected that the economic crisis would entail much worse consequences than it has and are glad things have been getting as bad as they had thought.

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