Contemporary Russians cold, calculating – poll

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Interfax – MOSCOW, August 20, 2013) A serious change has occurred in the Russian mentality and political system since the breakdown of the Soviet Union, Levada Center sociologists told Interfax.

Seventy-four percent of 1,600 respondents polled in 130 towns and cities in 45 regions in July said fellow citizens had changed a lot or entirely in the past two decades and only 11% pointed to insignificant differences between Soviets and new Russians.

The respondents noticed both positive and negative changes.

They mentioned greater freedom (29%), broader knowledge of the world (26%), pragmatism (20%), a better lifestyle (19%), prosperity (13%), a better attitude toward other countries and life abroad (10%), and a better attitude toward one’s compatriots (2%) are among the positive outcomes.

At the same time, 58% pointed that Russians had become colder and more calculating. Many said that “new” Russians were intolerant towards each other (35%), poorer (30%) and had lost hope for a better life (24%).

Twenty-two percent of the respondents argued that citizens became more dependent on the authorities and their bosses, and 8% suggested a worse attitude to foreign states.

In the opinion of 65% of Russians, the authorities have also changed. Nineteen percent noticed only slight differences.

Most of the respondents said the transformations were negative: 50% said the authorities did not care for average people, 43% accused them of inability to deal with problems, 21% regretted Russia’s abortive attempts to win respect of foreign countries, and 12% called the country’s foreign policy unskilled and incorrect.

Some respondents mentioned opposite trends. Twenty-six percent said that Russia had managed to build a normal relationship with the West, 21% said the authorities had done a lot to win respect for Russia, 8% claimed the provision of law and order, and 4% said the authorities were showing care for the interests of average people.

A group of Soviet senior officials tried to thwart the signing of a new Union Treaty, depose Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and override his perestroika policy in August 1991.

The State Emergency Situation Committee (GKChP) formed for that purpose on August 19 lasted for a few days only. The putsch was suppressed and Boris Yeltsin’s supporters arrested the plotters.

Gorbachev declared his resignation from the position of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee Secretary General on August 24 and called on Central Committee members to resign. The Union authorities were paralyzed.