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Most Russians don’t care about dollar rate or cancelled foreign trips

October 27, 2014, 15:32 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Metzel

MOSCOW, October 27. /TASS/. In a situation like the one in Russia these days, many people elsewhere would be close to jumping off ledges or putting a loaded gun to the temple. Here, everybody looks dead calm. As sociologists have found, an overwhelming majority of Russians are showing not the slightest traces of alarm over the continuing fall of the ruble against the dollar and the euro, as well as shrinking chances of going abroad on holiday. Generally speaking, they are not at all worried about Western sanctions against Russia and will surely remain so at least until the value of the consumer basket has surged up. Russians’ greatest concern is the future of children and grand-children, pollsters say.

As a Levada Center poll of 1,630 men and women of age in 134 communities in 46 regions of Russia has found, 52% of the respondents don’t care a bit about the soaring exchange rate of the dollar. The smaller the locality, the lower the degree of concern. In Russian villages, this problem does not exist for 68%. Only a third of respondents (31%) feel some worries on that score.

According to an earlier opinion poll, held on August 22-25, the international isolation of Russia does not trouble 65% of the respondents. As many as 66% of the polled are indifferent towards Western sanctions the European Union and the United States imposed on their country against the background of Ukrainian events.

The chief of the Levada Center’s incomes and consumption studies department, Marina Krasilnikova, is quoted by the daily Izvestia as saying that most Russians have no significant savings to be worried about and re-invested from one currency into another. Even among those concerned about the dollar’s exchange rate, most people lare worried over consumer price hikes above all.

Possible restrictions on travelling abroad are a separate subject. They are not a problem to 59% of Russians, while 38% would not like to lose such an opportunity. According to the latest opinion polls, 72% of Russians have no foreign travel passports, 76% have never travelled outside the former USSR on business, and 60% have never left the country on vacation.

The polls encompassed mostly average people, whose comments are based on every-day practical experience and the things they see on the TV, the chief of the Comprehensive Social Studies Center at the Institute of Sociology under the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Petukhov said. “They have no other opportunities to learn what is happening in the country and in the world.”

The sociologist also recalls that Russian society’s reaction is never instant, whatever may be happening. Usually it follows after a several months' delay. “The awareness of the situation will develop early next year, if at all,” Petukhov said. “As a matter of fact, the developments of the past few months have left most people unaffected. Ordinary people find the problems of the banking system very hard to understand.”

Russia’s countersanctions against imported foods have hit only a tiny share of the Russian population — no more than 5-7%, he said. The same applies to those in the habit of travelling abroad. According to various sources, an estimated 5-7 million — mostly the same people (80%) — go to other countries on holiday every year. “Millions of Russians have never left their hometown — Moscow or even the nearest district center. According to polls, half of those who take a paid leave do nothing for rest and leisure. Most spend time on household chores, say, on patching a roof leak.”

And yet the feeling of uncertainty about the future is mounting slowly but surely, the sociologist acknowledges.

“It is a sort of subconscious feeling of alarm, because bad news keeps pouring like rain. What the people are concerned about the most is the future of their children and grandchildren. This is precisely the reason why problems with education and healthcare, as well as the fear their children and grandchildren may be sent to serve in the army in trouble spots, are far more worrisome for Russians these days than dollar rates or a cancelled foreign holiday," the expert noted.

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