There are at least explanations for the figures the sociologist offered. First, the groups involved are nations whose representatives are more likely to come to Moscow and major cities than to smaller cities and especially to villages. Thus, Muscovites are more likely to have encountered them than are residents of the others.
Second, Muscovites may feel freer to offer their real feelings to poll takers than are residents of other smaller population points. People in the latter may be less willing to tell someone they don’t know how they really feel than are residents of the capital who have more experience with pollsters.
And third, far more media coverage has been given to ethnic problems in the Russian capital than to analogous problems elsewhere. Moscow journalists are far more ready to describe clashes as ethnic than are their counterparts in smaller centers where media outlets are more ready to accept official claims that the conflicts aren’t ethnic but arise from other causes.
Nonetheless the pattern is significant in two ways. On the one hand, it calls into question the image of Muscovites as more enlightened and tolerant, an image residents of the capital cling to and that many elsewhere accept. And on the other, it suggests that mixing people together won’t make them more tolerant but rather the reverse at least in the short term.