Russians View Certain Rights as Inalienable But Are Ready to Give Them Up, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says

October 5, 2014

Staunton, October 3 – Despite the current nostalgia for Soviet times and the difficulties of the 1990s, Russians still view traveling abroad and having access to a free flow of information as inalienable rights, the editors of Nezavisimaya Gazeta say. But at the same time, they are “prepared for the limitation” of these rights by the government.

Citing recent surveys by the Levada Center
, the editors of the Moscow paper say in a lead article today that these are rights that a majority of Russians view as “inalienable” but at the same time, a large share of them expect that the government will restrict these rights and say they will not protest if that happens.

One reason for this, the editors say, is that in some cases, such as the right to travel abroad, relatively few actually are able to exercise that right. Only eight or nine percent of Russians travel abroad each year, and fewer than one in three – 29 percent – even have passports that they would need to do so.

But another reason is that polls show it is “easy” for the government to convince Russians that limitations are “justified and necessary.” A recent Levada Center survey found, for example, that Russians were quite prepared to accept the need for an embargo on foreign products but at the same time 62 percent said they “aren’t prepared for an essential worsening of the position of their families because of sanctions.”

Such results are “paradoxical” only at a superficial level, the paper continues. In fact, they show that the authorities with skillful propaganda can obtain “serious support” for the restriction on freedoms — even if they and their president say that these freedoms are “inalienable” rights.