Democracy Was Disgraced in Russia during the 1990s

What do such notions as law and order, stability and democracy mean for Russians today? Which of the values is more important for Russia today? Researchers determined that most Russians give first priority to order and the political and economic stability in the country.

Russia ’s leading research organization, VCIOM, said that the majority of Russians attach more importance to order rather than democracy: 72% vs. 16%. The Russians still understand order as the political and economic stability of the nation – 41%.

Many Russians give their own specific interpretations of ‘order’: social protection of the poor (29%), no struggle in the authorities (27%), a possibility for everyone to realize their rights (25%), strict observation of law (24%). Others also see order as strict discipline (16%) and the attraction of military structures to the struggle against criminals (7%).

Very few Russians associate the notion of order with the restriction of democratic liberties and freedoms – 1% of the polled.

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As for the notion of democracy, many Russians understand this word as freedom of speech, press and religion – 44%. Twenty-eight percent believe that democracy implies economic prosperity, lawfulness (21%), order and stability (19) and the electivity of authorities (18%).

Eleven percent of Russians believe that democracy is nothing but idle talk. Ten percent of the polled said that democracy implied freedom of action for everyone. Six percent described it as anarchy. Four percent understands democracy as the subordination of the minority to the majority.

The share of respondents, who place order above democracy, is the highest among older individuals (76%), undereducated (77%) and low-income people (77%), which is quite natural. Young people (23%), highly educated individuals (21%) and financially secure citizens (24%) support democratic values.

The poll showed that the majority of Russians believe that order is much more important than democracy (72% vs. 16%).

“The interest in stability and lawfulness has been a dominating one during the recent decade in Russia,” scientist of politics Dmitry Badovsky said.

The results of the research do not mean that the Russians do not need democracy, though.

“I think it’s important to understand that there is no contradiction between these numbers. The people want the state, a democratic state, to guarantee law and order, lawfulness and stability. Democracy is not in an opposition to law and order. Democracy relies on law and order ,” the expert said .

“The results of the poll do not mean that 72 percent of Russians share anti-democratic sentiments. The poll only shows that we have not solved the problems related to establishing law and order in the country, social equality, anti-corruption struggle and others. These problems need to be solved so that the nation could develop democratically in the future,” Mr. Badovsky said.

Sergey Mikheyev, deputy general director of the Center for Political Technologies, explains the results of the poll from a different point of view. The expert believes that the Russians choose order and not democracy because the notion of democracy was discredited during the 1990s.

“What our new democrats – Yeltsin and his team – called democracy, resulted in the destruction of the national economy, criminalization of the society, the growth of corruption and embezzlement of the country. People understood democracy as a phenomenon in which everyone could steal. Needless to say that no one needs such democracy,” the expert said.

“The notion of democracy has negative connotations in Russia. One can argue if it is good or bad, but it’s true. The democrats are guilty of that. It goes without saying that if a person has to choose between her own security and democracy, she will choose security in 90 percent of cases. Unfortunately, democracy did not bring much security to the people in the 1990s. Order implies security first and foremost,” the expert said.

Russian opposition activists claimed after the recent bombings in the Moscow metro that the authorities would most likely use the terrorist threat as the convenient reason to restrict civil rights and liberties. However, it didn’t happen, although many Russians were ready to sacrifice their liberties for the sake of security, law and order.

Alexander Petrov

Read the original in Russian

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov