Protests in Russia over recent elections have impressed the international community. But will they also have a lasting effect on Russian society? That was just one question a DW-Trend poll has sought to answer.
A vast majority of Russian citizens, or 89 percent, is familiar with the national protests against election fraud and in favor of greater democracy, a DW study for April has found. The Ukrainian polling firm IFAK, which DW hired to carry out the inquiry, had surveyed a representative sample of 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 65 from all over Russia.
As to the protest movement itself, it's being supported by a large segment of the population and not only by a small minority, as the Kremlin had claimed. According to the poll, 32 percent of Russians support the protests, while 44 percent do not. As such, there is no clear majority opinion. About a quarter of the population remains undecided on the issue.
In addition, the DW trend survey found that the protests are not merely a youth phenomenon: At 37 percent, support for the protest actions was highest amongst 18- to 29-year-olds. In older groups, 30 percent supported the protests. These numbers show that the protests are not merely a conflict between generations, but rather represent a broad movement.
Of those polled, 36 percent answered that they thought the protests have affected lasting change in Russian society. But half think the protests are a short-lived phenomenon, and that their effects won't reach into the future. About 14 percent of those asked said they weren't sure as to this aspect.
With regards to dialogue between representatives of the protest movement and elected President Vladimir Putin, a clear picture emerges: 68 percent of those asked were in favor of such a dialogue. Only 18 percent rejected the idea of discussion between the Kremlin and protestors. Apparently, Russians are ready to open the door for alternatives to an uncompromising and authoritarian style of government.
Furthermore, the survey cast into doubt on whether a societal base for opposition could be built up. Only 13 percent of those polled indicated that they intended to become more politically active or engaged in the future, while 80 percent said they didn't have any such plans - making uncertainty the only sure future for engagement of Russian civil society.
Author: Sergey Govoruha / Markian Ostaptschuk / sad
Editor: Andreas Illmer