Moscow must remain capital city, most Russians tell pollsters
According to research released by the state-owned agency VTSIOM on Friday, only 5 percent of Russians would definitely support the transition of the capital from Moscow to some other city. A further 7 percent answered that they were not opposed to the idea, while 8 percent said they were undecided.
The remainder of respondents – 80 percent – said they’d definitely prefer Moscow to remain the capital of the Russian Federation.
The idea to move the capital from Moscow was more popular among residents of the city itself along with denizens of Russia’s second-largest city and former capital St. Petersburg. Among people with strong political allegiances the idea was more popular with supporters of the Communist Party and the non-parliamentary opposition.
At the same time, only 13 percent of Russians said they would prefer their children to live in Moscow permanently. Some 11 percent said St. Petersburg was the best city for their offspring and 23 percent answered that if they could choose the place of residence for their children it would be some small Russian town. Twelve percent liked villages best and another 12 percent said that if they could choose they would send their children abroad.
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VTSIOM’s director for communications, Aleksey Firsov, commented on the poll results by saying that Russians have started to associate big cities with stress, high cost of living and bad environment. At the same time he noted that the plan to move the Russian capital from Moscow which is voiced from time to time by various politicians apparently has very weak public support and that the idea of antagonism between provincial and capital residents was an exaggeration.
The general director of the agency, Valery Fyodorov, told Kommersant newspaper that the majority of Russians think of Moscow as a “sacred capital” and not as of a place that capitalizes on the poverty and misfortune of other places.
The plan to move the capital from Moscow to somewhere in the center of Russian Federation has been voiced, among others, by the current Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu (who comes from the Siberian region of Tyva) and radical nationalist politician and writer Eduard Limonov (who grew up in the Ukrainian industrial city of Kharkov).
The current Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin has repeatedly opposed the idea and said that losing ‘capital’ status would cause a real economic disaster both in the City of Moscow and the Moscow Region.