Saturday, January 13, 2018

Polls are Wrong: Russians Aren’t Nearly as Confident as VTsIOM Suggests, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 13 – VTsIOM poll results suggesting that Russians ever more believe in “a bright future” despite current economic problems are not an accurate reflection of Russian attitudes, according to a group of independent experts Anton Chablin has surveyed for Svobodnaya pressa (

            Even the head of VTsIOM’s research department, Stepan Lvov, says that Russians in fact may feel a certain stabilization but “as before [it] worries people, although their concerns have been routinized and less emotional” and therefore they appear less worried than they were rather than more confident.

            His view is shared by Yuliya Baskakova who heads the social modeling and prediction section of VTsIOM.  After all the vacillations and price shocks of recent times, she says, “Russians feel stability” and that “brings the hope that difficult times are in the past or perhaps are occurring now.” That leads people to assume that things are likely to get better.

            According to Chablin, “independent experts do not share the optimism of the VTsIOM sociologists. More than that, they express doubts even about the adequacy of the results of the poll itself.”

            Nodari Khanashvili, vice president of the National Association of Charitable Organizations, says that pollsters have been getting the same results with some improving and some getting worse for more than a year, a pattern that does not permit the sweeping conclusions that VTsIOM offers and that many in the Kremlin are inclined to accept.

            And Rodion Sovdagarov, a specialist on local communities, says that if one looks deeper at the VTsIOM results, one finds that the conclusions that people are more optimistic now are overdrawn.  Fifty-seven percent of the respondents to the VTsIOM poll say that “we are at the peak of the crisis or that things are going to get worse.”  That is hardly euphoria.

            Instead, he said, the results appear to reflect a change of attitude in the country about things other than economics. “All history teaches us that economic growth is the result of inspiration and optimism and not the reverse.”  To the extent that people are more comfortable with traditional values, they will be more positive even if objectively things aren’t getting better.

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