Protests kaput? Russia’s enthusiasm for rallies dwindling - poll

A new poll shows an increasing number of Russians have grown weary of political rallies. RIA Novosti/Grigory Susoev
In a survey canvassing 46 regions across the country, a major polling agency has found evidence indicating that Russia’s protest wave may be in retreat.

Has the arrival of sunny weather brought about a change of heart in the political protesters, who turned up the temperatures on Moscow’s streets during the frigid winter months? Or have the majority of demonstrators, having answered the call of their social media friends, simply moved on to other less controversial pursuits?

Whatever the case may be, support for political movements of any color is on the decline, according to poll data released by the Russian Public Opinion Studies Center (VTsIOM). Indeed, not only have more Russians lost interest in protesting the powers-that-be, they are becoming increasingly cynical of the motives of the protesters themselves.

The number of people who think the political protests are organized for “financial gain,” or “just for fun,” rose from 26 per cent to 31 per cent, and 16 per cent to 23 per cent respectively.

Seven per cent believe the protesters were “mentally ill.”

Meanwhile, the poll results point to a definite decline in the popularity of the opposition movement. Thirty-five per cent of respondents expressed their support for the political rallies in December 2011; the latest poll figures, however, show that support rapidly dwindling: according to VTsIOM, just 22 per cent of the polled expressed their support for anti-government protests. Meanwhile, just 7 per cent of respondents said they are ready to take part in protests.

The number of Russians rejecting the rallies as a form of political expression has jumped from 24 per cent in December to 39 per cent in May. At the same time, 29 per cent of respondents said that people have the right to take part in rallies, and 10 per cent think rallies should be banned altogether.

Thirty-five per cent of the polled expressed their “indifference” to the rallies.

Regarding the political loyalties of the protesters, who came out en masse in December to express their dissatisfaction with parliamentary elections and the political process, most of the rallies' supporters are advocates of the Communist Party (47 per cent); supporters of non-parliamentary parties came in second with 18 per cent.

United Russia supporters (49 per cent) expressed negative feelings about the rallies.

Fifty-one per cent of respondents said they had noticed a decline in the protests. In the opinion of 27 per cent of respondents, the reason for the decline in protest enthusiasm is because the rallies bring no results; 12 per cent say the decline is due to the end of the election campaign, which saw Vladimir Putin win back the Presidency with a commanding 63.6 per cent of the vote.

There were an assortment of other reasons given for the decline in rallies: 3 per cent said it was due to the beginning of the much-awaited summer season; 3 per cent connected the drop to “other concerns” of the protesters, as well as an improvement in the country's overall situation; 2 per cent said opposition members feared being imprisoned for their activities; another 2 per cent pointed to a shortage of opposition funds and government restrictions on opposition activities.

The center polled 1,600 people in 138 towns and cities in 46 regions on May 12-13.

Robert Bridge, RT