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Holiday poll shows Russians know main points of their Constitution

Holiday poll shows Russians know main points of their Constitution
Most Russian citizens have a general understanding of their country’s Constitution, but only about a third think it contributes to maintaining order, according to a recent poll.

On Monday, as Russia celebrates its Constitution Day, the state-run All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTSIOM) reports that a survey conducted earlier this month shows that 64 percent of respondents have a basic grasp of the main tenets of their Constitution, while only 26 percent say that they know nothing or almost nothing about it.

The same poll showed that 34 percent of Russians think that the Constitution plays a very important role in their country’s life, especially in maintaining everyday order, while 35 percent said its role was relatively small. However, as much as 27 percent told researchers that the Constitution was just a piece of paper whose principals were ignored in real life.

In particular, 34 percent reported having their right to health violated, 30 percent said they had experienced infringement on their right to work, and 28 percent claimed they had been deprived of their right to housing. Seven percent said they had never thought about whether these rights had been violated or not.

When researchers asked Russians which articles of the Constitution they considered the most important, the right to health came out on top with 49 percent, followed by the right to live and the right to housing, which tied with 46-percent support each. The right to work and the right to education came next, being named by 44 percent of the respondents each (the poll allowed multiple answers to the questions).

The head of the VTSIOM center, Valeriy Fyodorov, said that this year’s survey shows a slight decline in interest in the Constitution and basic civil rights compared to the past few years, but this could be explained by the great hype the Constitution saw in the media in 2013 because of its 20th anniversary. Now things are settling back to normal, he said.

Russia adopted the current version of its Constitution in a nationwide vote on December 12, 1993. The date was made a national holiday called Constitution Day in September 1994, which was an official day off for 12 years, before going back to being an ordinary work day in 2005.