Staunton, September 21 – In presenting the latest Levada Center survey on trust in Russian society, its director, Lev Gudkov, says there are only three institutions in Russia in which people express more trust than distrust – the armed forces, the president, and the organs of state security.
All others, he says, from religious organizations to charitable groups are distrusted more than they are trusted. (Charitable groups are trusted and distrusted about equally.) Distrust for most remains where it has been over the last decade at between 65 and 80 percent (levada.ru/2020/09/21/doverie-institutam/).
Gudkov hastens to add that “institutional distrust does not mean there is the potential for action against them or a readiness to resist.” Instead, distrust is better understood “as one of the forms of passive adaptation to force” in the case of the top three institutions in particular.
Institutions which are supposed to represent the population or which interact with it regularlyare particularly distrusted – legislators, law enforcement and judicial organizations, local and regional authorities, parties, trade unions and so on. And that reflects the fact that the Russian system is an anti-democratic one based on suppression of differences.
Of the 19 institutions the Levada Center asked about, “almost half” were distrusted by two-thirds to three-quarters of the population. The three with positive balances of trust as against distrust are relatively stable in that position. The army has led the trust balance for the last three years, Gudkov says.
Putin’s institutional trust rating has remained relatively stable as well, even though personal trust in him has fallen over the last several years. And given media campaigns, trust in the security agencies has remained high as well. Other institutions generally have lost ground in terms of the balance between trust and distrust.
According to Gudkov, “increasing the level of institutional and inter-personal trust is impossible without … the formation of empathy toward others, on the one hand, and a generalization of values (their universalization), on the other.” Neither can be achieved by the use of force or its heroization or by discrediting of elections and political competition.