Russians Dissatisfied with Many Things But Not Inclined to Demand Change

February 3, 2015
Photo by Reuters

Staunton, February 3 – Drawing on the findings of a Levada Center poll, the editors of Nezavisimaya Gazeta say that Russians are “dissatisfied with how they are treated medically and taught, they would like to live better and earn more, but these attitudes are not reflected in their voting in general elections.”

Instead, the paper says, “participation in political life is not viewed as an instrument of change, and the right to use this kind of instrument is not highly valued.” That also means that those who are dissatisfied do not promote alternative candidates, “do not trust current politicians, but do trust the leader.”

As a result of such attitudes, the editors continue, “three quarters of [Russian] citizens do not devote significance to the right to obtain information.” Rather, they are “indifferent to the fact that they are being lied do or ignored.” And that in turn helps to explain the simultaneous existence of an unhappy population and the lack of challenges to the elite.

Having listed the specific findings of the Levada Center poll, which show that Russians far more highly value social guarantees than their rights as citizen participants in any political process, the editors say that the list of Russian priorities inevitably raises several questions about what is going on.

“It is not completely understandable,” they says, “precisely what standard of living the state must guarantee.” Is it that of the fat 2000s or something less. And what does “just payment for work” mean? “Justice is a subjective term.” If someone thinks he or she isn’t being paid enough, then he or she will see that as injustice regardless of the objective facts.

And at the same time, “it is totally not clear” how Russians feel the government should intervene and resolve such issues “at the level of the defense of rights and freedoms.” Obviously, the editors say, “Russian society has chosen the maximum of guarantees.” But it doesn’t see the political process as something to be used to ensure that it gets them.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta
also carried an article February 3 which may suggest why Russians aren’t protesting: the average working day for Russians now is 9.5 hours, at least in part because of economic difficulties, and not the eight hours specified by law. Russians may simply be too worn out to protest.

And yet another explanation is provided by a Yolkin cartoon. Under the rubric, “Democracy in Russia,” it shows two groups of people, one small and the other large. The smaller group consists of 15 percent of the total and is holding signs proclaiming that “the authorities lie and steal.”

The other, larger group consists of 85 percent of the total, and its members are carrying signs saying “That’s fine. Let them lie and steal.”