I have already mentioned that there is virtually zero popular support for handing over the Kurils to Japan, so current hopes (and histrionics) on this topic are almost certainly nothing but hot air.
I wouldn’t even be making this post if not for a new development in this saga – the appearance of concrete numbers on what Kuril Islanders themselves think about getting handed over to a foreign country. The VCIOM poll in question queried 7,695 Kurilers, which represents an amazing 68% of the 11,347 people on the region’s electoral rolls. That poll might as well have been a referendum.
Results: Only 2% of Kurilers think Russia should hand over the islands to Japan, while 96% think it shouldn’t. 2% didn’t answer.
There were also basically zero differences by age group. 96% of 18-24 year olds oppose a handover, which is the same as for the population as a whole. The lowest opposition, by the thinnest of margins, actually came from the 60+ year cohort, where this number was “only” 94%.
As I noted back then, the lowest opposition came from the (70% non-ethnic Russian) North Caucasus Federal District, at only 63%. Since South Russians are strongly patriotic – 83% oppose the handover, almost as many as in the Far East – this implies that this number would be around 50% amongst its mainly Muslim minorities, and conceivably, opinion is evenly divided in Chechnya.
These are all logical, internally consistent numbers. There are very few nations, if any, that like giving away pieces of their territory (especially for dubious fake historical reasons as in the case of the Kurils). Opposition tends to be highest amongst the people to be given away. There are obvious analogies with the Falklands, where British support for the Falklanders was strong, but the islanders themselves were near unanimous in their desire to remain with the United Kingdom. Opposition is stronger than the national average in nearby regions. Meanwhile, opposition is most lukewarm in regions that do not strongly feel themselves to be a part of Russia; namely, the Muslim minorities of the North Caucasus.
One more point. Shallow person Surkov claims that Russian “deep people” are “impenetrable to sociological polls… and other means of direct study and influence.” But here we see the exact opposite. Opinion polls confirming that Russians believe and behave like most other normal countries and peoples would.