#16 - JRL 2009-164 - JRL Home
Russians fear terrorism less but many doubt authorities can protect them - poll

Moscow, 2 September: The number of citizens who lay the blame for terrorist acts in the North Caucasus on certain circles abroad, including in the West, has risen.

Forty-two per cent of Russians believe that, as a rule, local terrorists are behind the terrorist acts in the North Caucasus which have happen this year, although back in 2004 49 per cent of citizens held this opinion, sociologists from VTsIOM (the All-Russia Centre for the Study of Public Opinion) told Interfax today.

According to their data, 30 per cent of Russians lay responsibility for terrorist acts on certain circles in the West who are interested in the weakening of Russia; since 2004, the proportion of such respondents has risen from 21 per cent.

In this respect, a further 28 per cent point to Al-Qa'idah and other international terrorist organizations. Among other versions are Chechen business (17 per cent), certain Russian business structures (8 per cent) and the Russian special services (2 per cent).

As the all-Russian research by VTsIOM shows, during recent years the number of our citizens who are afraid of becoming the victim of a terrorist act has become less and less - from 78 per cent in 2001 to 61 per cent this year. At the same time, since 2006 the proportion of Russians who are sure that such a thing will not happen to them and their relatives is increasing (from 8 to 13 per cent). Finally, in the last eight years, the group of respondents who do no think about this at all has increased threefold (from 8 to 24 per cent).

As before, the majority of our fellow citizens do not take any special measures in order to secure themselves and their loved ones from the threat of a terrorist act (58 per cent and in 2005 - 48 per cent). At the same time, those who exercise vigilance in their place of residence, on transport and so forth are becoming ever fewer (32 per cent against 46 per cent in 2005) as are those who try not to visit mass events (8 per cent against 13 per cent respectively). In the minority are respondents who help the law-enforcement agencies and possess self-defence skills (4 per cent each), participate in self-defence detachments (3 per cent) and who acquire weapons for self defence (1 per cent).

According to VTsIOM's data, if in autumn 2005 Russians did not have a common viewpoint concerning whether terrorist acts in the Caucasus are the consequence of the war declared by terrorists on our country, then at the present time, the majority of respondents believe that this is more likely a local conflict (54 per cent) than a war (20 per cent). In 2005, 44 per cent and 42 per cent respectively were of this opinion.
Russians who believe that a war declared by terrorists against our country is taking place in the North Caucasus, as a rule, are sure that Russia is winning it (26 per cent); 20 per cent respondents said that everyone will be the losers. However, 14 per cent are sure that the terrorists are winning. A further 1 per cent is sure that, so far, no-one is winning.

As before, our fellow citizens place responsibility for the fact that terrorist acts have not been stopped on the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the special services (44 per cent against 39 per cent in 2004). Russians have also begun attributing blame to regional authorities (23 per cent against 18 per cent in 2004).

Conversely, there are fewer of those who consider the government responsible (18 per cent against 23 per cent), the Interior Ministry (16 against 24 per cent) and the president (8 per cent against 13 per cent). A further 11 per cent believe that the Defence Ministry should answer for the inability to prevent these terrorist acts. Least frequently, respondents point to the population who were not vigilant enough (6 per cent).

At the same time, in the past few years Russians have begun to praise the activities in the fight against terrorism carried out by the security structures. In this way, the proportion of those who consider the work of the Interior Ministry successful in this regard increased from 19 per cent in 2004 to 35 per cent this year, the work of the FSB from 20 to 33 per cent and the work of the Armed Forces from 20 to 36 per cent.

As the last poll by VTsIOM showed, half of Russians are confident in the authorities' capability to protect the population from new terrorist acts (49 per cent); however, compared to last year, such confidence has decreased (66 per cent). For their part, 37 per cent of citizens believe that the country's leadership are unable to defend citizens (19 per cent thought this a year ago).

Russians, as a rule, assess positively the initiatives in the fight against terrorism proposed recently by President Dmitriy Medvedev. In this way, 52 per cent consider the proposal to stop terrorist cases from being tried by jury and for them to be tried by professional judges instead to be effective; 47 per cent support the idea to stop trying terrorists in the place where the crime was committed in order to rule out pressure on the court and to try them in other regions instead.

Russians' opinions were divided only concerning the initiatives to increase the pay of law-enforcement agency employees in those regions where the fight against terrorism is being conducted: 42 per cent called the initiative effective, 37 per cent are of the opposite point of view.

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