Saturday, December 29, 2018

Russians More Conscious of Nationality Now than in 2013 but Less Likely to Demand Special Rights or Favor Restricting Immigration, Polls Show

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 29 – Surveys conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation find that 82 percent of Russian residents say they are ethnic Russians, while five percent say they are Tatars, and two percent Ukrainians; but the most interesting findings concern Russian attitudes toward nationality, special rights for the majority nation, and restrictions on immigration.

            On those issues, the POF polls report significant changes since 2013.  Perhaps most important, the number of residents of the Russian Federation who say they are always aware of their national identities has gone up from 60 percent five years ago to 80 percent now, likely a response to propaganda about Russia’s war in Ukraine and standoff with the West (

            But if Russians have become more ethnically conscious over this period, the foundation stresses, they have less supportive of discrimination on ethnic lines. The share saying ethnic Russians should have special rights has fallen from 31 to 23 percent, those saying everyone should have equal rights rose from 63 to 71 percent, and those saying Russia benefits from multi-nationality was up from 44 to 50 percent. 

            Those favoring restrictions on immigration from some countries meanwhile fell from 63 to 45 percent, while those opposing any restrictions on immigration rose from 27 to 43 percent. 

            Russian media are playing these results up as an indication that Russians are becoming more tolerant. That is possible, but it is also possible that these results as so often the case reflect Russians’ saying what the authorities want them to say – and right now promoting the idea that Russians are ethnically tolerant fits with the Kremlin’s program.

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