Friday, January 12, 2024

Nearly Two-Thirds of Russians Now Back Censorship, Most Not to Combat Immorality as in the Past but to Prevent Panic and Maintain Order, VTsIOM Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 10 – In the past, Russians who favored the introduction of censorship did so to prevent what they saw as the moral degradation of society. Now, a VTsIOM poll, conducted last summer but released only this week, shows that this group backs censorship to prevent panic and maintain order.

            The results of this survey by a polling agency close to the Kremlin can be found at and are analyzed at

            Demographically, supporters and opponents of censorship now and in the past divide as they have in the past, with supporters older, less educated, less urban, and television viewers and opponents younger, more educated, more urban, and more likely to turn to the Internet for news and information – in sum between the Putin electorate and the opposition.

            But if earlier surveys suggested that the Putin supporters primarily favored censorship as a tool to protect society from moral decay, this one makes clear that they now overwhelmingly do so because they fear that unrestricted news reports may spread panic and lead to disorder in Russian society.

            As so often in the case of Russian polls, this result almost certainly says more about what the Kremlin believes than about what even its supporters actually believe, a sign that those at the top of the power vertical are more worried about panic and disorder than they have typically let on.

            These results and the decision to release them now suggests that the powers that be in Russia may push for even more censorship than they have already imposed – but do so with new arguments likely to appeal to the attitudes its supporters are expressing today rather than those they manifested earlier.


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