Monday, October 11, 2021

70 Percent of Russians have Never Heard of Black Lives Matter Movement, Survey Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Oct. 6 – Seventy percent of Russians have never heard of BLM, and even in Moscow and St. Petersburg, 49 percent say they haven’t either, according to a survey by Mikhaylov and Partners. And even among those who have, many are hostile to the new ethics of tolerance that the movement calls for.

            For example, of those who have heard of BLM, the same survey finds that 23 percent say this movement is directed to establishing Black “dominance over the white population” rather than achieving equality for all members of society. They see BLM as something foreign and alien to Russia.

            Aleksandra Arkhipova, a Russian social anthropologist, says that “the term ‘new ethics’ appeared about two decades ago [in the West] but in Russia appeared only about three years ago,” but its popularity is still very low (

            Analysts say that the hashtags “MeToo” and “I am not afraid to speak out” haven’t spread in Russia as they have in Western countries, but they have had some successes even as they have sparked a negative reaction, especially among older, less well-educated and rural Russians.

            A recent VTsIOM poll found that 70 percent had never heard of the word harassment and that 45 percent did not consider anything wrong with people in the workplace making sexual demands. Moreover, another poll found that 49 percent of women oppose the ideas of the MeToo movement, although 42 percent support them.

            Russian attitudes toward sexual minorities remain overwhelmingly negative, although some surveys, including those done by the Levada Center, find that there are signs that this may be slowly changing and that Russians in their personal behavior if not their expressed views are becoming more tolerant.

            Young Russians are much more sympathetic to tolerance issues than older ones, with 68 percent of those between 18 and 24 saying sexual orientation is a personal choice, while among those over 60, only 16 percent think that, with majorities saying that it is evil or a danger to society that must be fought.

            But even ore than by age, Russian society on these issues divided by place of residence where residents of large cities are more tolerant than those in smaller cities or rural settlements. At the same time, however, Arkhipova notes, those even in rural areas who read a lot, know foreign languages and are interested in foreign countries are far more tolerant.

            Some Russian analysts say that progress on these issues has been slowed by the pandemic, which has made the image of the world more complicated and thus provoked a desire for simple explanations and led to an upsurge in conservative views.

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