Sunday, October 6, 2019

Apathy Rather than Fear Explains Most Russians’ Political Behavior, New Survey Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 4 – The political behavior of Russians from voting to taking part in protests is driven more by apathy, the sense that nothing they do will matter, than by fear, the sense that doing something the authorities don’t like will have adverse consequences for their lives, according to a survey conducted by AKSIO sociologists.

            Forty-seven percent of those queried said that people do not participate in protests because they think protests are useless compared to only about 30 percent who say that they fear that the authorities in some way punish them, the survey says ( summarized at

                Russian men are slightly more fearful than Russian women, 36 percent to 30 percent respectively, and slightly less apathetic, 59 percent as compared to 63 percent.  Perhaps because they have more to lose, young people of both genders are more fearful (50 percent) while pensioners are less so (20 percent).

            What this suggests, although the AKSIO analysts do not draw this conclusion, is that the current Russian regime maintains itself less by instilling loyalty through fear than by depoliticizing the population, thereby creating a situation that reduces challenges to the authorities but at the same time makes it more difficult for those in power to mobilize people.

            And that opens the way for opposition groups, despite their relatively small size to the total population, to organize demonstrations; but at the same time it suggests that they too will have more problems in expanding their reach, given that they will have problems overcoming apathy and do not have the ability to instill fear.

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