Staunton, Dec. 29 – Largely because the pandemic eased over much of 2021 and the economy stabilized even if it did not improve for most people, Russians rate the past year as better than they did 2020; but at the same time, they rated the situation in many areas significantly worse, the Levada Center reports.
Fifty-six percent of Russians said that relations with the West and NATO had become worse; 55 percent said that the work of medical facilities had deteriorated; 54 percent said the general level of life had declined; 51 percent said the environment had gotten worse; 45 percent said educational institutions were operating less well; and 45 percent said that injustice in distribution of material goods had become less fair (levada.ru/2021/12/29/2021-god-itogi/).
At the same time, the Levada Center survey found, the opinions of Russians about the work of law enforcement organs, the media, interethnic relations, the ability of ordinary people to influence government decisions, personal security, and the ability of people to freely express their opinions have not changed significantly over the past year.
This pattern suggests at least two things. On the one hand, global ratings are likely less informative than the evaluations of particular issues because they combine various things and likely are more political with people giving the answers on the former more in conformity to what they believe the authorities want to hear.
And on the other, many of the issues that the commentariat is most concerned about are very different than those that the Russian population is. Many of the former are focused on the increasing repression of the Putin regime, but the population is more concerned about other issues, including social justice and the environment.
Unless the commentariat and the opposition it claims to represent begins to focus more on what the Russian people are concerned about rather than on what it is primarily concerned with now, it will not succeed in attracting more people to its banners and will have less impact on the Russian political situation than it could.