‘Doubts are growing’: Are opinion polls dangerous for Putin?

Concern is growing in the Russian media, and despite the supposedly excellent polling data, Vladimir Putin has a lot to worry about. Officially, about seventy to eighty percent of all respondents supported the policy of the Kremlin in general and the attack on Ukraine in particular, and the trend remained the same. But the increasingly skeptical daily newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta (NG) notes that opinion polls can be dangerous for the system. The reason for this is not a question of whether 60 or 80 percent of the population is Putin supporter, but the debate over the aims of the war.

The Kremlin is under tremendous pressure to succeed

Forty percent of those surveyed to the state polling institute VTSIOM answered that, in their opinion, an attack on Ukraine would “protect” Russia, “disarm” Ukraine and prevent it from becoming a member of NATO. Far fewer Russians think the goal is to occupy Donbas (20 percent) or rid Ukraine of the “Nazis” (18 percent). Little has changed in these numbers in recent months.

By analogy, the Kremlin has been under tremendous pressure to succeed, NG summarizes: “These priorities mean that the end of the special operation without the demilitarization of Ukraine, without an actual defeat, may not be understood by society. Termination of hostilities in such a situation the situation should be explained in more detail And it seems that getting to the borders of the Donbass and Lugansk regions is no longer enough to publicly promote this as a success. ”

‘The rules of the game are getting stricter’

Accordingly, Russian propaganda fell into its traps, publishing new alleged “targets” week after week. What Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov means by his proclaimed “total hybrid war of the West” is difficult for any older Russian to comprehend. No wonder there is growing pressure from the nationalists, who are mounting outright criticism of the Kremlin for its alleged “hesitation” and for declaring the war a “failure” despite some territorial gains.

Regardless, the NG is suspicious of the supposedly high level of Putin’s approval: “In the past three months, the rules of the game have changed for the media and for everyone who used to speak frankly in public, or rather the rules of the game have changed and become tougher, and the unwillingness can be explained In support of “special operation” as “fraud” or “discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation” and punished by new laws, and even stigmatizing a person, hindering his career. Disturbing activities, normal and familiar life. Meanwhile, this is not unique to For Russia, people have doubts about anonymity in opinion polls. And now these doubts can only increase. ”

Researchers speak of ‘forced consensus’

As reported by WTSIOM, only 11 percent of those surveyed currently want to participate in potential protest rallies, and half the number last December: “People see and understand that protest activities are now, to put it mildly, difficult,” concluded NG Not More Enthusiastically for the system.

Meanwhile, experts from the “Re: Russia” project led by political scientist Kirill Rogov examined the actual mood in Putin’s empire. Accordingly, there is a “loyalty inflation” in Russia, that is, an artificially inflated consent. One of the reasons for this: ten to fifteen percent of the population are simply afraid to express their opinions. Incidentally, although 50 to 75 percent of those questioned were “with the war,” it largely depends on the question.

Many just want to protect their “people”.

The director of the Levada Institute agreed with this view, according to which half of the Russians see aggressive war as the right thing to do, but another thirty percent make their consent subject to the “condition” which their “people” have above all else. To be protected, not foreign countries.

The number of approvals has decreased since April, and in any case the younger generation is significantly more skeptical than the generation of pensioners, who mainly get their view of the world from Russian television. So Kirill Rogo and his colleagues speak of an “imposed consensus,” according to the Moscow Times.

‘It is becoming hard to find young and educated people’

In the online portal “Medusa”, critical of the Kremlin, sociologist Alexei Titkov of the Moscow University of Social Sciences and Economics noted that in the past about ten percent of Russians who were asked were willing to provide information, but at the moment only about seven percent. Among them, in turn, there are especially many who use television as a source of information only, that is, potential Kremlin supporters: “It is becoming more and more difficult to find people in the group of young and educated citizens who are ready to answer. In order to make the choice of the actor safe, they must make more effort It is usual. This is the first difficulty that arose – the formation of the people. ”

“They are anxious and waiting for everything to be over.”

Moreover, there are two types of bias: respondents may outright lie and say what the Kremlin expects, as opposed to their true view, or that people with doubts will put them aside and agree “more confidently” than they actually feel.

About the current climate of opinion, Titko says: “About half of the citizens are convinced supporters of the current policy, but without militancy, without bloodshed. The rest is more complicated. About a fifth, and a sixth are determined opponents of the party. Military operation, and the rest about a quarter of citizens are confused. About this, with mixed feelings, and when asked directly if you support the war, they will most likely reply: “Yes, I do.” But at the same time, they are neither cheerful, nor proud about it. Instead, they worry and wait. It’s all over.”

Titko advises Russians not to read the “press accounts” of opinion polls, but to take the published data and form their own opinion.

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