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Sociologists say Russian society consolidating as pressures on Russia keep growing

April 11, 2014, 0:08 UTC+3 By Itar-Tass World Service analyst Tamara Zamyatina ¶ ¶ MOSCOW
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/By ITAR-TASS World Service analyst Tamara Zamyatina/MOSCOW, April 10, /ITAR-TASS/. On the background of sanctions against Russia introduced by the U.S. and the EU over the events in Ukraine, sociologists and experts point out consolidation of Russian society and a generally indifferent attitude to the ban the West has imposed on issuing travel visas to a number of politicians and government officials.

Levada Center public opinion research group explains for this a tradition to get consolidated around the authorities at times of external troubles, which is present in Russia and in other countries, too. Also, a considerable number of Russians have never been abroad and hence they do not think that a ban on going there could be a serious punishment for someone.

A poll presented by Levada Center on Wednesday showed that the majority of Russians (80%) approve of President Putin’s activity and more than a half of those polled (60%) feel confident that the situation in the country is developing along a correct vector.

A research done by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) at the end of March proves that the number of respondents approving of Putin’s activity grew 4% within less than twenty days and exceeded 75%.

“Support for a national leader, whose popularity rating is skyrocketing reflect people’s attitude to the return of Crimea and Sevastopol to Russia,” political scientist Sergei Markov believes. “This reunification became possible thanks to the Russian leadership’s huge political will and ordinary citizens perceive it very positively.”

“In addition, consolidation of public opinion is assisted by the external pressures Russia is subjected to,” Markov said.

What’s more, Putin led an opinion poll published by The Independent in London at the end of March. More than 92% respondents voted for him. His closest contender, Angela Merkel, got 3% and person number three, Barack Obama, ended up with 2%. Russian Today news channel said Francois Hollande and David Cameron stood next in line with about 1% each.

“It’s important to channel the surge of patriotic feelings and the leadership’s popularity into serious reforms and the speeding-up of Russia’s development, which creates the prospects for this country and people and strengthens its positions in the world,” Dr. Sergei Karaganov, the dean of the Faculty of World Economy and Politics at Moscow’s Supreme School of Economics told Itar-Tass.

“A temporary crisis in relations between Russia and the West will assist an active continuation of Russia’s reorientation to Asia through a new pulse to development of Siberia and the Far East,” the expert said.

As for the sanctions against a number of officials whose trips abroad will be restricted and whose assets at foreign banks have been frozen, Sergei Markov believes that many Russians were glad to hear the news.

“In reality, only 7% to 8% Russians have passports for traveling abroad and that’s why the majority of Russians don’t find it important that someone is denied entry to the West and someone else is not,” he said. “Many even welcome the fact that officials and oligarchs will have to spend less time abroad or won’t have real estate there or will be unable to conduct business in offshore zones.”

“From the angle of view of these people, the U.S. and EU sanctions have a stimulating element, as the elites will be less oriented to the West and will think more about their homeland,” Markov said in an interview with Itar-Tass.

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