#3 - JRL 7255
July 18, 2003
CONFISCATE AND DIVIDE
Expectations of the people have not change in the last 86 years
Only 19% of Russians praise the oligarchs for their role in the 1990s
Author: Igor Fedotkin
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
ROMIR MONITORING HAS DONE A POLL AND DISCOVERED THAT THE PEOPLE OF RUSSIA TAKE AN EXTREMELY NEGATIVE VIEW OF THE ROLE OF OLIGARCHS, WHILE SUPPORTING THE IDEA OF REVISING THE OUTCOMES OF PRIVATIZATION - EVEN GOING AS FAR AS CRIMINAL PROSECUTION FOR "CAPITALISTS".
ROMIR Monitoring has done a poll and discovered that the people of Russia take an extremely negative view of the role of oligarchs, while supporting the idea of revising the outcomes of privatization - even going as far as criminal prosecution for "capitalists". Pollsters hope that the attitude to entrepreneurs will gradually improve; but meanwhile, they describe Russian society as "a dangerous swamp".
Fifteen hundred Russian citizens were approached by ROMIR Monitoring between July 9 and July 14. Poll results indicate that negative views of capitalists are steadily exacerbating: 74% of respondents view the role of entrepreneurs in Russia's history over the last decade as negative or partially negative, and 77% blame them for the current state of affairs.
Only 19% of respondents praise the oligarchs for the role they played in the 1990s, and 17% praise them for their current role.
The highest support for entrepreneurs was recorded in the North- West federal district (29%), while the lowest is reported in the Trans-Dniester region (8%) and Russian Far East (15%). The level of approval for business tycoons increases with income level, educational level, and social status. Young citizens (aged between 18 and 34) are more tolerant than their elders.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents believe that outcomes of privatization should be revised, fully or partially; only 18% categorically object to the idea. The revisionists include business owners (77%), administrators (88%), and people with college degrees (87%). College students (53%) and young people (between 18 and 34) are the least revolutionary. Among the latter, only 63% of respondents advocate revising privatization results.
Moreover, 57% of respondents would not object seeing the state prosecute entrepreneurs, while 31% do not rule out the possibility in "special cases". This attitude is based on the firm belief that fortunes were made unlawfully in the first place: 88% of respondents are convinced that all the big fortunes in Russia were made "dishonestly", and only 6% are prepared to believe in their legitimate origins. Even 72% of business owners taking part in the poll are sure that Russia's big fortunes have unlawful origins.
While they dislike the oligarchs rather emphatically, respondents don't really care what happens to them. When asked to comment on the arrest of YUKOS executive Platon Lebedev, 15% of respondents admitted that they were glad about it; 5% were unhappy about it; 38% did not care; and 38% hadn't even heard about it. The billionaire's arrest was particularly welcome in the Siberia federal district (26%) and the Russian Far East (28%). Respondents in the Trans-Volga federal district were markedly indifferent to the news from Moscow: 57% of respondents there were unaware of Lebedev or his misfortune.
"The public views oligarchs rather as representatives of the regime who ended up with property and assets because of fraud, not as particularly successful businesspeople," said Alexander Muzafarov of ROMIR Monitoring.