Russians find democracy important: Survey

Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow (Photo: Denise Kopyciok)
ST PETERSBURG: A survey has found that Russians want democracy, but are split on what comprises a democracy.

The survey conducted by the German non-profit Friedrich Naumann Foundation between July and August, before the Russian parliamentary elections in September, found that about one in two (57%) survey respondents personally feel democracy in Russia is important.

On the same thread, some 43% feel that democracy is important for Russians as a whole.

The survey also asked respondents if there ever has been democracy in Russia, ranging from Stolypin’s era in the early 1900s to Putin’s current regime, and the results were split.

About one in three (37%) feel that democracy is at its strongest in the post-USSR days.

The other 32% say that Russia has never been a democracy, while the remaining 31% indicated “don’t know” or did not answer the question.

The survey highlighted seven areas of interest within Russian society: laws and control, economy, gender, religion, freedom of speech, democracy, fears and expectations for the future.

The survey also found that in:

Laws, Control

  • Almost 66% think the state should collect personal data of its citizens for security purposes
  • Close to 57% feel that the rights and freedoms of citizens can be violated to prevent law infringements and provide security

Economy

  • Some 60% think that an economic system based on state planning and distribution is better than one based on a free market (27%)
  • About 71% think it’s impossible to be rich by honest means in today’s Russia

Gender

  • Close to 70% think homosexuality is abnormal and must be prohibited
  • More than 91% feel indifferent or positive if the wife earns more than the husband

Religion

  • Almost 20% think religious lessons should be compulsory in school, while 61% think it should be optional and 17% say it should not be compulsory
  • A majority 58% think government policies should be coordinated with the Russian Orthodox Church

Freedom of speech

  • Some 27% think mass media should always be controlled by the government while about 45% think government should stop in only for special cases such as for security reasons.
  • Close to 25% think the mass media should be absolutely free
  • Most Russians are not afraid of sharing views that oppose majority opinion with their friends and relatives (86.5%) and neighbours and colleagues (82%)

Future: Fears, expectation

  • Economic development and welfare (72%), as well as security and order (60%) are the most pressing issues for Russia to tackle according to the respondents
  • Some 70% also feel that there will likely be mass job loss, growing interethnic conflicts and terrorism events in the next five years
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