POLLS SHOW THAT AROUND HALF OF RUSSIAN CITIZENS DISLIKE OLIGARCHS AND BIG BUSINESS. HOWEVER, GIVEN RUSSIA'S ORTHODOX PAST AND PRESENT AND THE SOVIET PAST, THE RESULTS COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE. MEANWHILE, THE YOUNGER GENERATION IS ALREADY MORE FLEXIBLE ABOUT PRIVATE BUSINESS.
Russia's leading polling agencies have independently done polls on what is actually the same subject: how is "the bourgeoisie" viewed in the new Russia? The results have turned out to be impressive. Seventy-four percent of Russian citizens assess the role of oligarchs (also known as "major capitalists") in the 1990s as absolutely or partially negative. Even more, 77%, say the oligarchs play a negative role in Russia right now. About the same number believe that the outcomes of 1990s privatization should be completely or partially revised. These are the poll results of the ROMIR Monitoring agency.
And here is probably the greatest paradox in the answers: while at least a half of Russian citizens are convinced that big business exerted and exerts a negative influence on the nation, its economy and politics, about the same number are convinced that attacks on major business worsen the political situation in Russia (almost one-third) and Russia's image abroad (more than one-third). And none of the pollsters put the question this way: "Are you ready, for the sake of restoring social justice (i.e. revising the privatization), to permit destabilization of the situation in Russia?" Better to say: "Will you, comrade, volunteer for a civil war?" It is good they didn't, however. For consistent logic is not worth seeking in the Russian public consciousness, as ever...
THE YUKOS CASE THROUGH THE EYES OF RUSSIANS
This is what the YUKOS affair looks like in the view of Russians, according to a poll done yesterday by VTsIOM. The results again draw attention primarily with the confusion in judgments. Eleven percent say the regime has launched a campaign against the oligarchs; 4% say that it limits the influence of "non-Russian" capital this way. Another 18% see an election campaign action here, aimed at obtaining dirt-cheap popularity and scaring business leaders away from politics; the same amount, 18%, see different political clans fighting for power. To the question about who initiated the action of the Prosecutor General's Office, 37% of respondents (1,500 in all) answered that it is carrying out the president's instructions and 25% that it is acting on its own. The rest were unsure.
Yuri Levada, VTsIOM head, commented on the survey results to us.
Question: Do your survey's results fit in with the president's popularity rating?
Yuri Levada: His last approval rating (percentage of those approving of his performance) has risen by two percentage points, 76 to 78, but I think this is related to the fact that the president is active, turning up everywhere and shown frequently. Boris Gryzlov's popularity rating, by the way, has also grown by around two points.
Question: Will the YUKOS affair affect the election?
Yuri Levada: So far, it is hard to say. About 45% think currently that everything will be more or less ok. However, if this campaign goes on, on a large scale basis, it will possibly somehow affect the election.
Question: What do the people think about the oligarchs?
Yuri Levada: The people think that the president ranks first as to the influence on life in the country; the oligarchs are the second; and all the rest - the government, the Duma, and whatnot - are far behind them. However, "oligarchs" is not the best appropriate word, it has a negative shade... By the way, people usually distinguish between those who are called oligarchs from other businesspeople, from simply rich people. According to our survey, 45% believe the activity of businesspeople rather useful for the country (another 40% think it harmful and the rest give no answer). Meanwhile, 45% of the well- wishers is very very well. With our poverty and our upbringing, there might be much less. Researchers say that the not-for-profit and ascetic Orthodox ethics, unlike the Protestant one where successful labor and wealth are welcome to God, have relevantly influenced people's work motivation and through that, the country's economic position. And then the Soviet power and "the robbing privatization"... One may assume that people have absorbed dislike for wealth and contempt for the rich with their mothers' milk, which sociologists' surveys demonstrate to us. However, the same sociologists claim society is gradually turning its face to wealth...
Say, with every year, Moscow school graduates show increasing material and career ambitions: with every five-year period their visions of the apartments they wanted to live in had one more room (a big brick house is popular with the young presently); many want to manage enterprises or have businesses of their own. The young generation already has nothing against "the golden calf."
(Translated by P. Pikhnovsky)