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Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

#6 - JRL 7260
Novoe Vremya
No 28
July, 2003
Author: Nikolai Popov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]


As before, three fourths of Russians believe that "the state should handle all problems of the country." Moreover, the majority of them are confident that the state has not been doing that. 66% respondents are negative towards how the state "provides social security of the citizens." Most Russians believe that the state power in Russia is simply weak. 33% Russians think so, and 33% more tend to think that the power is sooner weak than strong. 22% respondents share the opinion that the state power in the country is sooner strong, and only 8% are convinced that it is. It follows that the ratio of skeptics and believers in the state power is 66% to 30%.

Opinions on that score depend on political sympathies. The Communist Party and LDPR are on one flank. The ratio of skeptics and believers there is 73 to 19 and 78 to 21 correspondingly. Voters of the United Russia and Union of Right Forces are in the center. The ratio there is 52 to 46 and 52 to 33. Yabloko supporters are not particularly worried by the weakness of the state. The ratio of skeptics and believers in this stratum is 48 to 49.

If the state does not wield a lot of power, who does? Paradoxically though it may appear, there is a widespread opinion on that score. 31% respondents believe that "real power in Russia is wielded by large capitals and oligarchs." 18% assume that power is wielded by the president and 17% by organized crime. 12% respondents believe that power is wielded by state officials and bureaucrats and 4% think that the Duma wields the power. 4% believe that power rests with local power structures and 2% with regional and territorial authorities. Virtually nobody believes that power rests with the people.

In other words, 40% respondents believe that power in Russia is wielded by state institutions of all sorts. 48% are convinced that power rests with oligarchic and criminal circles. What is particularly sad is that the president is believed to wield as much power as the underworld. Vladimir Putin's supporters, his future voters, are not much optimistic on that score than, say, Gennadi Zyuganov's supporters are. 23% of the former believe that the president wields real power in the country and 15% that power rests with organized crime. Among the latter, the ratio is 15 to 14. 32% in both camps are convinced that power rests with oligarchs.

The future is not going to be any better. 42% respondents believe it "rather possible" and 31% "fairly possible" that "oligarchs and representatives of major businesses may come to wield absolute power in the country in the near future." Only 22% respondents consider it "rather" or "fairly impossible". United Russia's voters and communist followers do not differ in their estimates that much. Oligarchs' "absolute control" is believed possible by 75% supporters of the United Russia and 77% of the Communist Party. Asked a different question ("What clout with state power and policy will oligarchs wield in a decade?"), 33% respondents believe that it remain unchanged (i.e. considerable), 44% think that it will grow, and only 13% optimistically assume that the clout will diminish. Putin's and Zyuganov's supporters do not differ much in their attitude - 46% and 43% correspondingly believe that the oligarchic clout with the state power will increase.

It is interesting to consider respondents' opinions on the arrests of senior officers of law enforcement agencies charged with bribery and corruption. The media criticizes the arrests as a PR action aimed to up the prestige of the police and its upper echelons, but 35% respondents regard the action as a beginning of the war on organized crime. At the same time, 25% believe that "this is a political action, an element of political wars", 20% assume that "old scores are being evened", and 12% respondents "have not hear anything" about the action.

Putin's voters are particularly optimistic with the importance and true meaning of the action against corrupt law enforcement officers. 42% believe it to be a beginning of the war on organized crime. 61% voters of the Union of Right Forces and 40% of the United Russia evaluate the action as necessary and long overdue. In the Yabloko camp, however, only 14% supporters believe that the action has anything to do with a war on organized crime, 37% followers are convinced that this is a PR action, and 32% advocate the score-evening hypothesis.

(Translated by A. Ignatkin)

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