Russians do not believe parties and the authorities

Sixty-nine percent of Russians interviewed in a recent survey said that the country's authorities have a very poor idea or no idea at all of what ordinary citizens really need, and 59 percent of respondents accused political parties of pursuing only their own interests and ignoring the peoples' interests, Levada Center sociologists told Interfax on Thursday.

Twenty-seven percent of those polled that the Russian authorities failed to heed people's interests in full, and 31 percent said that parties' competition helps take the interests of most citizens into consideration, thus producing decisions that sufficiently reflect people's will.

Fifty-one percent of respondents said that Russia needs two or three large parties, and 22 percent said only one party. The idea of Russia having a large number of relatively small parties was supported by 12 percent of those polled, and 5 percent said that the country does not need any parties at all.

The Russian Justice Ministry has already registered some 40 political parties, but the number of organizing committees seeking to register their parties under the country's new law has approached 200.

The new law, which came into force on April 4, 2012, cuts the minimum number of members required for a party's registration to 500 from 40,000.

Twenty-two percent of Russians suggested that new parties are formed in order to satisfy the ambitions of individual political figures, 17 percent mentioned the interests of certain sections of the population, and 15 percent said that it allows citizens to make a choice.

Eleven percent of respondents said that the establishment of new parties helps distract the attention of voters who support opponents of the United Russia party, 7 percent said that it allows parties to perform successfully at regional and local elections, 6 percent said disperse "the protest electorate", and 3 percent said discredit the idea of democracy and show that parties are useless.

Only 35 percent of those polled believe that United Russia advocates the interests of the country's entire population, and 52 percent said that it champions the interests of civil servants and the bureaucracy. However, the opinion that United Russia is a "party of crooks and thieves" was supported by 36 percent of respondents, and 47 percent disagreed.

Citizens' opinion on whose interests President Vladimir Putin supports has changed seriously in the past 18 months, the sociologists said.

Forty-three percent of respondents to the latest survey said that Putin advocates the interests of security services, the Armed Forces and the Interior Ministry, as compared with 31 percent in January 2011. Thirty-nine percent of those polled said that Putin champions the interests of the oligarchs, bankers and key business people (26 percent in January 2011), 32 percent mentioned the interests of civil servants and the bureaucracy (24 percent), and 26 percent spoke about the directors of major enterprises (18 percent).

Fourteen percent of those polled said that Putin defends the interests of people from "the inner circle" of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin (10 percent in January 2011).

Putin's commitment to the interests of the middle class was mentioned by 21 percent of respondents (26 percent in 2011), the interests of ordinary people by 14 percent (20 percent), and the interests of the intelligentsia by 7 percent (10 percent).

As far as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is concerned, 25 percent of respondents said that he advocates the interests of security services (19 percent in 2011), 29 percent mentioned the interests of the oligarchs, bankers and key business people (25 percent), 24 percent civil servants and the bureaucracy (21 percent), and 19 percent the directors of major enterprises (14 percent).

Medvedev's commitment to the interests of Putin's inner circle was mentioned by 39 percent of those polled (18 percent in 2011).

Twenty-one percent of Russians said that Medvedev advocates the interests of the middle class (26 percent), and 9 percent the interests of white-collar and blue-collar workers (14 percent).

The public opinion survey was conducted in 45 Russian regions from July 20 to July 23.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.