Saturday, February 1, 2020

Dueling Polls about What ‘a Typical Russian’ Is or Should Be

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 26 –  Frequently, surveys of Russians point in different directions, something that confuses some observers but reflects the fact that those behind at least some of the polling agencies view the results as being less a portrait of what the typical Russian is than about what they think such an individual should be.

            The editors of the portal offer a set of pairs of such findings that point in different directions(  Thus, a Levada Center poll found that a majority of young Russians want to emigrate, while a VTsIOM survey concluded that fewer than ten percent wanted to move abroad permanently.

            Similar differences are offered in polls about Vladimir Putin, Aleksey Navalny and the fight against corruption, foreign threats, nostalgia for the Soviet Union and support for Stalin, the death penalty, how best to combat fake news, and laws against offending religions or the powers that be.

            These divergences reflect how questions are asked by the independent Levada organization and the Kremlin loyalist VTsIOM, differences magnified by the fact that VTsIOM doesn’t even ask questions about dissent where any answers might be a problem and by those rare cases such as LGBT rights where the two agencies find much the same thing.

            And that provides a clue to how these results should be read: the Levada Center numbers show what the “typical” Russian really is; the VTsIOM ones underscore what the Kremlin would like that mythical personage to be. 

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