Staunton, August 30 – The Moscow media this week have celebrated survey results suggesting that Russians are becoming ever more tolerant; but the findings of these polls in fact suggest that the situation is rather more complicated than that and any celebration is at a minimum premature.
An article in today’s Izvestiya, for example, reports that “Russians have demonstrated religious tolerance.” One of the figures the paper offers does suggest that; but others indicate that it would be a mistake to conclude that the Russians are as tolerant as the author of that piece suggests (iz.ru/638716/mariia-nediuk/bolshinstvo-zhitelei-rossii-tolerantny-v-voprosakh-religii).
Indeed, the newspaper’s journalist, Mariya Nedyuk, admits as much when she writes that “it is shown in Russia that our compatriots are tolerant toward religions but on issues of nationality and culture, the population is divided in half” between those who show tolerance and those who don’t.
She notes that “only 32 percent” of Russians say they think any religion is superior to any other, implicitly suggesting that far more have a different position. She says that 48 percent do not believe in the superiority of one race over others but also that 49 percent think that some cultures, including presumably their own, are superior to others.
Further, Nedyuk quotes Moscow sociologist Leokadiya Drobizheva to the effect that “only 30 percent” of Russians have a negative attitude toward non-Russians in general but that those who oppose immigration are much more numerous and that “people are much more tolerant on nationality issues in the republics than in the megalopolises.”
And she cites another Moscow sociologist, Vladimir Mukomel, who says that the reduction in xenophobic attitudes among Russians found in surveys since 2013 is connected above all not so much with a change of heart as with “a falloff in the intensify of the information flow which could trigger xenophobia.”
In support of that, Nedyuk concludes her article by pointing to a new finding by the Levada Center that the share of Russians who want to limit the numbers of other nationalities living in Russia has fallen to its lowest level over the last 13 years. But she acknowledges that those who want to impose such limits is still over half at 54 percent.
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