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Most Russians Feel Disenfranchised, Poll Shows

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Moscow, 17 September: The majority of Russians are not interested in participating in the country's political life even at a local level, as they have no faith in being able to influence the situation, research shows.

An overwhelming majority of Russians (82 per cent) are sure that they will not be able to impact on political processes in the country, while 55 per cent do not want to be involved in political life even at the level of their city, Levada Centre sociologists told the Interfax news agency, following the results of an October Russia-wide survey. The share of those willing to engage in political activities and sure of their ability to influence the situation in the country stands at 31 and 14 per cent, respectively.

The poll has shown that Russians are gradually changing their ideas of the means and ways of resolving particular problems. Thus, the number of those who show resilience and resolve in difficult life situations and wait for improvements has fallen from 50 to 35 per cent since 2009. Meanwhile, the number of people wishing to effect a change in the make-up of the authorities through elections has risen from 22 to 35 per cent. However, protest sentiments remain at the same level, with 18 per cent of respondents being ready to hold protest rallies and street demonstrations to draw the attention of the authorities to the needs and problems of the average person.

At present, 66 per cent of Russians believe the interests of the authorities and the society do not coincide, which is attributed to different reasons. In particular, 31 per cent of those polled are convinced that the people and the authorities always have different goals and interests, whereas 30 per cent think that the authorities live at the expense of the people and thus have to deceive them. Some respondents see no link between decision-makers and the population (21 per cent), others are sure that the interests of the public and the authorities only coincide during critical periods (15 per cent).

The survey revealed that only 26 per cent of Russians are confident that they can defend their interests and rights in case they are violated, while 60 per cent do not believe that they have such an opportunity.

According to Levada Centre, the share of respondents feeling vulnerable to the possible lawlessness on the part of the authorities, police, traffic police, tax officers, courts and other state structures stands at 67 per cent (compared to 73 per cent in 2008), while 28 per cent said they felt protected (against 22 per cent).

The poll results show that 85 per cent of Russians are convinced that the majority of today's Russian politicians engage in politics only for personal gain. The same number of respondents (85 per cent) say that many civil servants do not observe laws in practice.

The poll was carried out by Levada Centre using a representative Russia-wide sample of the urban and rural population with 1,520 respondents across 45 Russian regions on 3-19 October. The statistical discrepancy does not exceed 3,4 per cent.

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