Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Russians Say 2016 ‘More Difficult’ than 2015 for Themselves and for Their Country

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 21 – Russians, according to a new Levada Center poll, say 2016 was “more difficult” not only for them personally but also for the Russian Federation.  Moreover, for the first time since Putin came to power, they rate the year they have just lived through as an “unsuccessful” one.

            In response to the sociologists’ questions, 54 percent of Russians said that the last year was more difficult for themselves and for Russia than the year before. A third (33 percent) said the situation was unchanged from 2015, and only 13 percent said that the situation was better now than a year ago (

            This mix of answers continued largely unchanged since 2014, when Russians began to say that the past year was worse than the one before. Between 2010 and 2013, in contrast, a majority of them said the current year was about the same as the one before it.  In the crisis years of 2008-2009, overwhelming majorities said the current year was worse than the earlier one.

            For themselves personally, 48 percent of Russians said 2016 was more difficult than 2015; but it is worth noting that their evaluations about their own situation do not always correspond with the evaluation of Russia’s situation as a whole. In the past, Russians typically answered that the current year was no worse than the past; in 2016, that changed.

            For the first time since 2000, the Levada Center noted, Russians rated the past year as unsuccessful for themselves personally. Between 2001 and 2015, they were more optimistic. 2007 was the high point of optimism, and the negative feelings may be even greater now than the poll suggests: for the past two years 23 percent of the sample did not answer the question.

            While Russians said that their overall situations had gotten worse over the last year, many said that particular institutions had not. Another attitude that did not change from a year ago: the assessment of the Russian people of their ability to have any impact on the decisions of their rulers.

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