Friday, April 22, 2011

Window on Eurasia: Young Russians Hate Bureaucrats More than They Hate North Caucasians, Poll Finds

Paul Goble

Staunton, April 22 – A poll of 1600 young Russians in six major cities found that as much as they dislike migrants from the North Caucasus and support nationalist groups like those who took part in the Manezh Square protests last December, they dislike bureaucrats “even more,” a pattern that may portend even larger and more violent clashes.

Yesterday, the Moscow newspaper “Kommersant” reported about a poll conducted for the Social Chamber which showed that “young [Russians] hate bureaucrats more than they hate people from the Caucasus and give preference to nationalist organizations such as the Nashi movement and Molodaya gvardiya” (

The telephone poll, conducted by the Politex Social Technologies Agency with the support of the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, involved 1600 respondents aged 15 to 30 in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov-na-Donu, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, and Chelyabinsk.

Three out of four of those answering – 76 percent – said they sympathized with those who took part in the Manezh action. Only one in five – 20 percent – condemned it. Moreover, 78 percent insisted that the December protest was not a nationalistic action, with 58 percent saying that it was a protest against corruption and “so-called” ethnic crime.

The polltakers argued that the view that the Manezh protest was not nationalistic was confirmed by “the fact that ‘the relationship to it of ethnic Russian respondents and representatives of other nationalities was practically identical.

But the situation may be more complicated than that: Sixty-nine percent of the sample said the causes of the conflict were to be found in the fact that corruption, “especially in the law enforcement organs,” is flourishing and when “militiamen release criminals for money or on orders from above.”

Two out of three of those polled are “certain that migrants, especially ‘Caucasians,’ ‘live better,’ as a result of their rapid ability to adapt to the corruption of the authorities.” As a result, while 39 percent of the sample acknowledged they had a negative attitude toward people from the Caucasus, 51 percent had a negative one toward officials, and only 27 percent like the police.

Hostility toward young Caucasians, the poll found, is widespread: 69 percent said they “do not like them because of their ‘aggressive behavior’ and their unwillingness to “live according to our rules.’” As a result, 26 percent said they would “welcome the splitting off of the North Caucasus from Russia,” but a larger number – 40 percent – doubted that would help.

“Kommersant” noted that “it is interesting that only 17 percent of the participants in the poll positively assessed the activity of the Nashi movement,” while 32 percent expressed approval of the actions of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI), which a Moscow court has just banned.

The poll found that 37 percent of young urban Russians said that they have “acquaintances” who “would take part in actions” like the Manezh Square clashes. And “almost none of them doubted” there would be more such events. “Where and when,” one individual polled said, “I do not know. But they will take place.”

Everything that points to that conclusion, the young Russian said, “is now taking place.”

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