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Popularity of radical opposition in Russia declining

April 24, 2013, 11:46 UTC+3

Experts explain this phenomenon by the people’s frustration over the fact that the radicals have no distinct positive program of action

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According to the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VCIOM), the recognition of the leaders of the radical opposition is growing, but the popularity is declining, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper writes. More and more people have a negative attitude towards them. Experts explain this phenomenon by the people’s frustration over the fact that the radicals have no distinct positive program of action.

The most prominent “fighter for justice” today - Alexei Navalny - has lost more than others in the ranking, although his recognition has grown to 53 percent. However, 47 percent of people first heard about him during the interview. He is still inferior in terms of fame to Boris Nemtsov (78 percent), Garry Kasparov (76 percent) and Mikhail Kasyanov (68 percent). Meanwhile, the share of respondents who have a negative attitude towards him since last February has increased from 31 to 51 percent. The number of those who have a positive attitude to him is 19 percent. Growing is the number of people who dislike Yevgeniya Chirikova (from 39 to 45 percent), Sergei Udaltsov (from 39 to 45 percent), Boris Nemtsov (from 50 to 59 percent).

Only 14 percent of Russians believe that Navalny is engaged in opposition activities; 13 percent believe that he is fighting for power. And the number of those who associate his work with the fight against corruption and social and political activities in general is far less (2 percent). It is interesting that 40 percent of the people who know Navalny are indifferent to him. As many as 15 percent of citizens distrust him, and only 2 percent trust him; 8 percent of those polled are sceptical about him, 7 percent - feel antipathy towards him, 6 percent - condemn him. And 13 percent of respondents explain the political activity of Alexei Navalny first of all by his strive for power. A mere 6 percent of respondents believe that he is fighting for justice. Only 3 percent of those polled believes in Navalny’s anti-corruption component.

President of the Public Opinion Foundation Alexander Oslon told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper that at the end of last year he got about the same data as the VCIOM - the negative attitude towards the leaders of the street opposition is growing along with their publicity.

The radicals’ recognition is often associated with scandalous stories on TV, Oslon says: “People see Udaltsov climbs a phone booth and he is taken off from there, then his close-up and is shown as he says something in a loud voice - so his fame is growing. But if in June 12 percent of respondents disliked him, 7 percent liked him. And in November, when the recognition increased dramatically, the positive rating was 7 percent, and the negative was 21 percent.”

Oslon believes that not only the TV propaganda is responsible for the opposition leaders’ popularity decline: “What do they offer? That is, they may offer or not offer something, but the “spectator,” as in the theatre, must have an answer to this question. If he does not understand anything from the actor’s long monologue, then it is not only and not so much his problem.”

And most importantly, Oslon maintains, even if a person understands what the radicals say, he wonders: “What’s next? They have enthusiasm - and what about potency?” But the main thing is that the majority of citizens, even disgruntled at the authorities, do not want to participate in street clashes.

According to head of the Centre for Political Information Alexei Mukhin, the decline in the street opposition leaders’ rating is natural: “They have not formed a positive, constructive agenda. With which it would be possible to institutionalise and appear in the political field. They remained at the positions of the people who continue to curse and to swear in social networks. I think that people just have got tired of it.”






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