People Feel Well but Russia is Unwell

Russians admire their own ability to cope with problems

Two thirds of Russians are satisfied with their today's economic and social position, sociologists of Yury Levada’s Analytical Center state. At the same time, approximately the same amount of the Russian population dislikes the economic situation in general.

66 per cent of respondents are to some extent satisfied with their present-day life. 33 per cent of Russians do not like their way of living. This may sound strange but majority of respondents, 46 per cent, say Russia’s economic situation is poor today. Only 41 per cent of Russians are satisfied with the economic processes in this country. 34 per cent of Russians think the economic reforms must be continued, 22 per cent of respondents think the reforms must be stopped while 44 per cent of Russians have no definite opinion concerning the reforms at all.

Marina Krasilnikova from the Analytical Center is not at all surprised at the questioning results. She told the Vremya Novostei newspaper this reaction is quite normal. “People’s opinion of their own economic status has considerably improved over the last years of the economic progress. The tendency outlined starting with 2000, and only in September 2003 the estimates slightly worsened. People in Russia, like in other transitional economy countries, consider their own social and economic status to be better than the country’s position in general. People’s opinion of the economic situation in the country is actually improving although the process is slower.”

Head of the Analytical Department in the Center for Political Technologies Alexey Makarkin told the newspaper the phenomenon is explained with the Russian unique character. “Russians know how to survive in any conditions they have and in hard economic situation as well. People invent various strategies for surviving: some grow vegetables for sale; others lease their apartments or have extra jobs. At that, people are quite satisfied with their conditions and think their life is positive.” At the same time, the analyst thinks people act rather like experts when estimating Russia’s economic situation. What is more, the expert adds, people have higher self-rating in case they live rather well in a country with poorer economic conditions. People are inclined to explain their prosperity with their own efforts, and blame the authority for the economic problems of the country. This does not concern the president so far.”

Indeed, polls reveal that the Russian president, the church and the army enjoy much trust with the Russian population as concerning other authorities (56, 43 and 30 per cent respectively). Unfortunately, political parties and the police enjoy little trust (5 and 10 per cent respectively). Alexey Makarkin says the church and the army enjoy much trust with the population in the West. Presidents are trusted only in the spheres where they are political symbols and keep away from active political struggle. It is typical of all countries to respect the dominating religious confessions and the army. The Russian church seems to be keeping aloof from politics, that is why is enjoys more respect. It supports the state not any particular policies. The disrespect to the police against the background of the respect towards the army is explained with conflicts that people often have with law enforcement authorities.

The opinion poll reveals that half of the Russian population expects their lives to improve within the nearest year. Only one quarter of respondents are optimistic about the future, while the same number of people are rather cautious with their forecasts for the next year. Marina Krasilnikova explains this with the recent acts of terrorism. They have seriously undermined people’s trust in the governmental institutions. The terrorist acts also changed people’s opinion of the nearest future for the worse. So, today people estimate the present-day situation in Russia as the best over the past years while they are extremely apprehensive of their future.

Darya Gousseva

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Author`s name Andrey Mikhailov