Staunton, Nov. 2 – Given the xenophobic statements of Russian politicians and the xenophobic actions of some in the population, many are inclined to think that the Russian people are overwhelmingly opposed to immigrants and would favor their expulsion or the limitation of their rights while in Russia, Aleksey Makarkin says.
But polls show that Russians overwhelmingly are favorably inclined to immigrants, the Moscow commentator says, the result of both decisions from on high and the fact that pro-immigrant Russians seldom are politically active while anti-immigrant ones are consistently so, a paradox not unknown in other countries (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=6541034CB2E72).
In discussing the details of recent polls about immigrants in the Russian media, Makarkin doesn’t address this larger issue. But it is likely that in Russia as in other countries, the top leadership pays disproportionate attention on this issue as on others to those who are organized and much less to those who are not.
What is important for observers and for Russian society as well is to recognize that organized and active minorities may be able to set the weather politically but also to recognize that they do not necessarily reflect what the population as a whole thinks and might express if options to do so became available.