Russians’ Readiness to Protest May or May Not be Increasing, Levada Center Says

Moscow Protest File Photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 1, 2020)

While Russians are increasingly unhappy about conditions in their country, the Levada Center says, it is unclear whether the share of them who are prepared to take to the streets is growing or not, given that new figures may reflect only a change in the way the center evaluates that possibility.

The latest poll shows that the share of Russians prepared to protest has risen almost to the level at which it was after the increase in the age at which they could take their pensions; but the real level of public unhappiness with the authorities is undoubtedly much higher and so a willingness to take part in protests could grow (

File Photo of Moscow Winter Protest

The poll shows that 27 percent consider social protests completely possible, up by only one percent from February 2020 and from surveys a year ago. In short, the change is not statistically significant. At the same time, 28 percent said they would join protests if they began, up from 24 percent three months earlier.

In releasing these figures, the Levada Center, which the justice ministry has already labeled “a foreign agent,” said that its findings showed that “there is observed no essential radicalization of attitudes in society.” But it also said that the May poll was conducted by telephone whereas earlier surveys were face-to-face.

Because of that shift, the Center says, it is not entirely correct to compare the two sets of figures because it is likely that people are more willing to protest than they are willing to declare over the telephone. Suggestive of this are the 12 percent who say they favor having the government distribute money directly to the population, something the Kremlin has rejected.

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[featured images are file photos from other occasions]