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Russians Fear Environmental Disasters Most - Poll

MOSCOW. May 7 (Interfax) - Of all possible adversities seen as threatening Russia, environmental disasters and terrorist attacks against strategic facilities cause the greatest fear among the country's population, an opinion studies group said on Wednesday, citing an opinion poll.

Environmental catastrophes are the threat 48% percent of Russians fear most, and 46% are most afraid of terror attacks on strategic facilities, the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) said in a statement posted on its website.

The running out of reserves of oil, natural gas and other minerals comes next on the list, with 40% putting it at the top of their apprehensions.

Then come fears of cultural, scientific and educational decay (36%), a low birth rate decimating the population (31%), a sharp decline in living standards (31%), wide-scale epidemics (29%), territories seeking to secede from Russia (24%), and armed conflicts with neighboring countries (21%).

Only 17% see outer space as the greatest source of danger, and 16% are afraid that March's presidential election has split up the ruling elite and see this as posing the greatest danger to the country.

Other potential developments feared by Russians are an "Orange" revolution in Russia, with 15% being particularly afraid of it, a coup supported by Western secret services (14%), a civil war (13%), a war against a Western country (13%), a war against a "southern" or "southeastern" country (12%), and fascists taking power (7%).

However, the poll suggests that the Russians see any of the possibilities that have been mentioned as much less likely to become reality today than they did three years ago.

Those for whom a possible living standards decline was the greatest source of fear accounted for 70% of the population three years ago, and those for whom a possible drastic population decrease was the greatest concern made up 58% then.

Today, however, each of the two categories makes up 31%.

The proportion of those fearing a split in the ruling elite has plummeted from 46% to 16%.

The survey, carried out on April 12-13, had a margin of error of 3.4%, VCIOM said.