Staunton, April 6 – Polls in Russia are anything but reliable guides to popular attitudes: Pollsters in many cases structure their questions to get the results those in power want; and the population often tells those conducting surveys not what they in fact think but rather that which they believe the authorities want to hear.
But when a flurry of polls comes out about different topics that all appear to support rather than contradict one another, it is worth paying attention because they collectively may be a bellwether of change. In the last two days, results from five such polls have been released. They include:
· Medvedev’s Approval Rating Falls from 52 to 42 Percent. This decline brings him to the lowest level of Dmitry Medvedev’s premiership, and analysts are explaining it not only by pointing to the Navalny expose of his corruption but also by the clumsy way the prime minister and his supporters in the Duma have defended him (svpressa.ru/politic/article/169869/, newsland.com/community/4765/content/reiting-medvedeva-opustilsia-do-istoricheskogo-minimuma/5767422 and profile.ru/obsch/item/116460-vynuzhdennoe-molchanie).
· Navalny’s Support Doubles from Five to Ten Percent. Aleksey Navalny is now supported by 10 percent of Russians, according to a new poll, twice as many as did so only a few months ago but still far behind the ratings his putative opponent in the presidential elections, Vladimir Putin, has. Nonetheless, for an opposition candidate to break out of the single digits is an achievement in the Russian media environment (republic.ru/posts/81580).
· Nearly 40 Percent of Russians Say They Approve March 26 Anti-Corruption Demonstrations. Perhaps even more significant than Navalny’s personal rating, 38 percent of Russians say they approve of the March 26 demonstrations he organized in cities across Russia to call attention to the threat corruption poses to the country (http://politsovet.ru/54959-martovskie-protestnye-akcii-odobryaet-38-rossiyan.html).
· Nearly Half of Russians Say They Fear for the Future. Forty-six percent of Russians say they now fear for the future of themselves and their country, a number much higher in the past and one that in most countries would suggest that many of them would vote for change in the presidential elections (svpressa.ru/society/article/169868/).
· Russian Support for Stalin Rising but for Lenin Falling. But Russia isn’t most countries. Instead, many Russians who want change may seek an even more authoritarian course. Public approval of Stalin as a national leader has tripled from eight to 24 percent since 1990, while support for Lenin has continued to fall from 67 percent then to 26 percent now (newsland.com/community/6207/content/za-25-let-kolichestvo-priverzhentsev-stalina-v-rossii-uvelichilos-vtroe/5766764). Moreover, only six percent of Russians now say that the October 1917 Bolshevik revolution as a catastrophe for their country (newsland.com/community/5652/content/neuteshitelnye-itogi-sotsiologicheskogo-oprosa-ob-otnoshenii-k-bolshevistskoi-revoliutsii/5767968).