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Sociologists note a falling interest in protest actions

May 29, 2012, 13:46 UTC+3

They named several reasons, particularly obvious reasons for protests disappeared, the nature of protest actions changed and their TV coverage also had some influence on them

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MOSCOW, May 29 (Itar-Tass World Service)

The number of those sympathizing with the participants in rallies and demonstrations has shrunk since December 2011, the All-Russian Public Opinion Centre (VCIOM) explained, the Kommersant daily cited the results of the VCIOM public opinion polls. The sociologists named several reasons, particularly obvious reasons for protests disappeared, the nature of protest actions changed and their TV coverage also had some influence on them.

The May protest actions became widely known, as the first major For Fair Elections action on the Bolotnaya Square. After December 10, 2011, 54% of VCIOM respondents stated that they heard about this action. The same number of pollsters heard about the opposition camp OccupyAbai in May. After Vladimir Putin’s presidential inauguration the opposition camp existed on Chistye Prudy for a week, but was dispersed by the police then. 52% of VCIOM pollsters are aware about the March of Millions, which was held on May 6. Some 33% of respondents were aware about a multi-thousand Control Walk on the boulevards by well-known writers.

Meanwhile, the sociological survey (VCIOM polled 1,600 people in 46 Russian regions on May 19-20) shows that the attitude of people to these events changed. If in December 2011 the number of the For Fair Elections supporters was higher than that of their rivals, the situation is different now.

At the end of the previous year 11% of respondents were ready to join the protest actions and now seven percent are ready to do it. The number of those, who support such actions, but are not ready to go out for such protest actions, went down (from 24% to 15%). Although the number of respondents, which admitted the right of people to protest, but do not share their ideas, went up from 19% to 26%. Meanwhile, the share of those, who believe that such protest actions “should be banned” at all, went up from five percent to 14%. The number of those, who are indifferent to rallies at all, remains almost unchanged (32-33%).

VCIOM Director General Valery Fedorov named among main changes to the newspaper that the main reason for rallies lost its topicality by May contrary to the protest actions against the results of the State Duma elections, whereas the presidential elections were held “quite fairly” in March and “a popular candidate won” at the elections. Meanwhile, “the effect of novelty” disappeared. “Fewer people began to participate in the protest actions, and their behaviour changed,” Fedorov said. “Obviously negative moods, die-hardness, the readiness to go to the end, confrontation emerged. Moderate protesters gave up the participation in protest actions, and this fact alienates ordinary people,” he said.

The Kommersant noted that the authorities had different responses to massive protests in December 2011 and May 2012 before Putin’s inauguration. After peaceful actions For Fair Elections on the Bolotnaya Square and the Sakharov Avenue the authorities declared about a political reform, particularly the comeback of gubernatorial elections and easier registration rules for parties (though the opposition stated that finally these initiatives were void of their initial sense). After the May March of Millions, which was aggravated with provocative acts and clashes with police, the initiative was put forward to toughen substantially the legislation on rallies.


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