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There has been some confusion about Navalny’s poll ratings due to the varying timing, phrasing, and options in the polls on the matter. The Russian Spectrum tries to clear things up.

Navalny Gaining, Sobyanin Dominant

Below is a summary of comparable polls on this subject by date from two of Russia’s three biggest polling agencies: The private Levada Center, and state-owned pollster VCIOM.

Levada, June Levada, 4-8 July VCIOM, 9-10 July VCIOM, 20-21 July
Sobyanin 68.2% 81.0% 78.3% 77.1%
Navalny 4.5% 9.5% 11.6% 12.9%

The Levada polls asked, “Which of the following candidates are you prepared to vote for in the Moscow mayoral elections of 8th September?” It divided the respondents into three groups: “All Muscovites,” “… of which prepared to vote,” and “… of which have made their decision.” Though figures were given for all three, I am listing only the first group (“all Muscovites”) to make the Levada figures comparable to all the other polls, which had no such division.

The VCIOM polls asked their respondents who they were going to vote for if the elections were held this Sunday.

All polls were adjusted to exclude those who don’t have an opinion, didn’t intend to vote, or planned to spoil their ballot, just as would happen in a real election.

The jobs agency SuperJob and the company Synovate Comcon also carried out polls.

Synovate Comcon, 27 Jun-3 July Synovate Comcon, 4-10 July Synovate Comcon, 11-16 July SuperJob, 16 July
Sobyanin 77.9% 78.% 76.2% 62%
Navalny 10.8% 10.7% 14.4% 26%

Should Navalny start celebrating that bump at the end? Probably not. The SuperJob poll only asked the “economically active” parts of the population. It is not exactly a secret that many of Navalny’s supporters are younger people, so their 26% likely overstates his actual level of support. Furthermore, pensioners tend to have higher turnout rates in Russian elections, a factor which is likely to favor Sobyanin.

There is definitely an upwards trend coinciding with the recent furor over Navalny’s conviction, and his release on bail the day after. But catching up with Sobyanin, who remains dominant, is a tall order.

PS. I did not bother include polling numbers for the other candidates. Suffice to say all the polls have them all down in the single digits. Amusingly, the Fair Russia candidate Nikolay Levichev got an absolute 0.0% in the last two Synovate polls.

(Republished from Russian Spectrum by permission of author or representative)
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With the registration period over, there are now six candidates left to compete for the position of Mayor of Moscow in the coming city elections. Who will Muscovites vote for?

Moscow on the Eve of the City Elections

Which of the following candidates are you prepared to vote for in the upcoming Moscow elections on 8 September?

Out of all Muscovites

…who intend to vote

… & have made their choice


July June July June


Sergey Sobyanin


34 61 53 67


Alexei Navalny


4 3 5 3


Ivan Melnikov (KPRF)


2 - 4 -


Sergei Mitrokhin (Yabloko)


1 2 2 2


Sergey “Pauk” Troitsky


1 1 1 2


Nikolai Levichev (Fair Russia)


<1 - <1 -


Mikhail Degtyaryov (LDPR)


<1 - 1 -


Alena Popova


<1 - 1 -


Gleb Fetisov


<1 - <1 -


Svetlana Peunova


<1 - <1 -


will spoil ballot


2 1 1 1


hard to say


42 9 33 -


won’t participate


14 - - -


(Republished from Russian Spectrum by permission of author or representative)
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In a recent poll conducted by the Levada Center, Leonid Brezhnev was revealed to be Russians’ favorite ruler of the 20th century. Do you see his era as a Golden Age, or as a zastoi?

Russian Attitudes to Former Heads of State


(Republished from Russian Spectrum by permission of author or representative)
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The Russian Spectrum presents the results of Levada, FOM, and VCIOM polls over the past dozen years showing the rapid digitization of Russian society.

The Internet in Russia

The three questions used were all similar: “Do you use the Internet, and if so how frequently?”


Also in the latest Levada poll: “Do you use the Internet, and if so for what purpose?”

Apr-11 Nov-11 Feb-12 Apr-13
To track the latest news 18 22 24 26
To find out what’s happening here and abroad 9 12 14 16
To find needed information 32 34 39 42
To find/read books 8 9 14 15
To find/watch films 15 17 22 25
To find/listen to music 16 17 20 23
To find/buy goods or services 7 10 12 18
For entertainment 16 18 21 28
For communication 24 25 33 38
Other <1 1 1 1
I don’t use the Internet 54 50 45 41

Translator notes

A person is generally considered to be using the Internet if he uses it once a month or more frequently. In 2013, according to Levada, 48% of Russians used the Internet every day, 10% – several times a week, 2% – two or three times a month, 1% – once a month.

We see from the graph above that in Moscow (and from the data, St.-Petersburg too) reach a plateau at about 70% penetration. That is the penetration level of developed countries generally. Therefore, we can expect to see the pace of Russian Internet penetration to now drop off markedly, as the market reaches saturation.

(Republished from Russian Spectrum by permission of author or representative)
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Writing in Novaya Gazeta, Andrei Vladimirovich Kolesnikov argues that the branding of the opinion pollster Levada Center as a “foreign agent” marks Russia’s return to the bad old days of Lysenkoism.

A Sociology of Dvoechniki

Levada Center is being destroyed with Stalinist methods.

Sociological data is dope for the present-day vlast. She looks at sociological reports just like a certain famous fairytale character, and with much the same question: “Who’s the fairest of them all?” But smoothing the wrinkles spreading all over the carcass of the political system requires ever more applications of the tonal cream of court sociology. Meanwhile, real sociology – incorrect, inconvenient – is being exiled. The method for this has been found: Amendments to the law on NGOs, so that they could be exiled as “foreign agents,” involved in “political activities.”

The Levada Center is being destroyed for the second time in its history. Founded at the end of the 1980s under the name of the exceptional sociologist Yuri Levada, this professional sociological organization has already once been demolished once – few now remember that VCIOM is, in fact, the old name of the Levada Center. In 2003, when Yuri Levada was still alive, the hostile takeover was successful, but not fully so – the re-branded sociological service remained the source of the country’s most reliable sociological data. I remember well that press-conference at Izvestia’s media center – Izvestia as it was then {Translator: It was more oppositional then} – I remember Yuri Alexandrovich’s bewilderment, and the sense of surrealism about the whole thing… And now we have the second attempt to destroy it, this time by tagging scientific work with the mark of politics. The Savelovskaya prosecutor’s office took upon itself this difficult mission.

This is unadulterated Stalinism. As far as today’s vlast is concerned, sociology is no different from what state statistics were to the Stalinist vlast. No coincidence that the spirit of the era became encapsulated in the following brilliant aphorism from the economist Stanislav Strumilin: “Better to stand for high growth rates, than sit for low ones” {Translator: To “sit” in Russian can simply mean to go to prison}. The Levada people aren’t sitting yet, but the continued exist of the Levada Center has come under threat; and not only of the Levada Center, but of independent, scientific sociology such as it is…

At the same time, we see the elimination of competition on the market on sociological services: Instead of a “Big Troika” – FOM, VCIOM, and the Levada Center – we are left with just a “Big Deuce.” And with all due respect to their colleagues, it will also be a sociology of dvoechniki. Where are the voices of other professional sociologists in defense of their colleagues, of science, and of honest research? Only crickets chirping. Are they afraid?

Even if the Levada Center somehow survives, it will be easy to bankrupt it via “market” mechanisms: Such agencies mainly live off marketing research, and how many of their clients will continue dealing with an organization branded as a “foreign agent”? They would henceforth go only to Kremlin-certified agencies, which had pledged allegiance to the “correct figures.”

On this account I also have an old anecdote, which I was told by the academic Revold Entov. The unchanging director of the Soviet statistics service Vladimir Starovsky, having passed through all epochs and outlived all leaders, became famous for the following phase addressed to a colleague: “I present you with the Order of Lenin for your ability to give the correct socialist figure.” Maybe it’s just the case that of all today’s surviving Russian sociologists dream of the Order of Lenin? But as is said: Ask not for whom the bell tolls…

Any honest research, any honest civic activism, any honest voluntary movement, any honest science, any honest newspaper or magazine article, is – by the logic of the Savelovskaya prosecutor’s office and of Prosecutor D. D. Minkov, whose names will enter the annals of history in the Saltykov-Shchedrin, if not the Gogolian, sense of the word {Translator: The latter two were famous 19th century Russian satirists} – equivalent to political activity. And if it is paid just a single cent by a foreign fund, then it becomes not only political activity, but hostile to boot. Vladimir Putin was lying when he claimed that the concept of a “foreign agent” carries an exclusively legal meaning, with no allusions to darker times. The semantics here are entire Stalinist, repressive, and propagandistic. According to the Levada Center’s own surveys, our compatriots quickly got the correct bearings: More than half of all Russians support harsh sanctions, up to and including liquidation, as regards NGOs that engage in politics, receive money from abroad, and don’t register as foreign agents.

The vlast is cutting off the very branch on which it sits. It deprives itself of reliable social feedbacks. It destroys studies of the humanities. And it risks being left alone with some kind of “Orthodox sociology.” But so what? “Orthodox sociology for Orthodox Chekists” – sounds about right.

At this rate it won’t be long before we get to the “rootless cosmopolitans,” and the “Weismann-Morganists,” and finally the academician Lysenko to top things off.

Reader comments

Дмитрий Кузьмин: The vlast isn’t cutting off any branch on which it sits. The Levada Center has open statistics, while the Chekist accounts are closed… Why does the alpha crane need people to know even part of the closed statistics. Better make the people into a herd of cattle, who don’t know their past or their present reality – and then, they have no more future!!

александр46 марков: Just register as a foreign agent and continue working! But wait a second, weren’t you saying earlier that you didn’t get any money from Gosdep!?

Сергей Аникин: The foreign agents are trying their utmost to conceal their true faces.

Не Гражданин (replying to above): And what is their “true face,” in your opinion. Do think, that instead of a face, they have a Botox-inflated ass, like our beloved Mr. President?

Previously, “enemies of the people” – now, “foreign agents”; previously, “witches” – now, “blasphemers”… But, at least, yesterday, “militaria” – today, “police,” that is modernizaton Medvedev-style. Modernassization.

That’s the problem with this country – the dominance of cattle, slaves, ready to lick the ass of anybody who comes to power, which itself consists of the same artiodactyla.

Don’t blame the mirror if your mug is skewed!

(Republished from Russian Spectrum by permission of author or representative)
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In an interview with Kommersant’s Ksenia Turkova, the director of the Levada Center Lev Gudkov argues that opinion polling isn’t a political activity – and as such, that his organization is not a “foreign agent.”

“The Sphere of Public Opinion Cannot Fall under the Rubric of Political Activities”

The opinion polling agency Levada Center may cease to exist. The sociologists have received a warning from the Prosecutor’s office, in which they were accused of carrying out political activities on foreign money. The director of the Levada center Lev Gudkov discussed the situation with our Ksenia Turkova.

Why does this warning threaten the organization’s existence?

I didn’t say that it threatens us directly, but it does create serious problems which could eventually put a stop to much of our research efforts. The main essence of it is that as an in dependent research organization, we are in a sort of cul-de-sac, where the vague definitions of the concepts of “political activity” and of “foreign financing” creates scope for complete arbitrariness.

Which research efforts are under threat, precisely?

Primarily, these are electoral studies, and research into political culture, popular approval of institutions. Everything related to that wide range of areas where the citizen comes into contact with the authorities.

So one possible scenario is that the Levada Center will continue to exist, but will no longer have a political dimension to its research?

That’s what has me most concerned.

You will study what Russians like to eat, what films they like to watch?

We have now spent 25 years theoretically and empirically developing these studies, and ceasing them is pretty much the same as shutting down the Center.

In principle any opinion poll, presumably, can influence public opinion?

Just like anecdotes told in kitchens.

It could apply to anything.

That’s exactly what I’m saying, that there exists a very wide interpretation. If we lived in a normal law-based society, then the borders of politics would be clearly defined – it’s institutional activities, in the framework of party activities, and of the electoral and legislative process. The sphere of public opinion – is the sphere of publicity, or what is known in the West as the sphere of public debate and civic engagement, and in no way can it fall under the rubric of political activities.

We are not politicians, and we do not do politics. We are a research organization. Trying to equate the study of politics and politics itself is pretty much the same as doing it with the study of cancer, and cancer itself. It’s completely absurd.

Many linguists study political discourse. What are they to do now?

Shut down, and shut up – just like many others.

Did you have any specific problems with your partners after this warning?


With whom?

I don’t want to talk about it. But the problems are real enough.

Could you at least say what kind of problems they are?

Our interviewees refuse to continue working with us.

You’ve lost respondents?

You have to bear in mind that we don’t just interview ordinary people, we also pose questions to certain groups of officials, teachers, and employers, who shy away from the mere mention of foreign agents.

What are you going to do next?

Right now I can’t tell you anything for sure. We are consulting lawyers, and trying to find ways out of this situation.

Was there any reaction your open letter?

Only if you count journalists flooding our phone lines.

(Republished from Russian Spectrum by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Levada Center, Politics, Translations 
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A new Levada poll indicates that after a brief infatuation with markets and “Western-style democracy” in the early 1990s, Russians more or less consistently consider the Soviet system to be the best one out there.

Russians on the Country’s Political and Economic System

Which of these political systems do you think is best: The Soviet system (the one we had until the 1990′s), the current one, or Western-style democracy?


Which of these political systems do you consider to be most legitimate?


(Republished from Russia Voices by permission of author or representative)
Anatoly Karlin
About Anatoly Karlin

I am a blogger, thinker, and businessman in the SF Bay Area. I’m originally from Russia, spent many years in Britain, and studied at U.C. Berkeley.

One of my tenets is that ideologies tend to suck. As such, I hesitate about attaching labels to myself. That said, if it’s really necessary, I suppose “liberal-conservative neoreactionary” would be close enough.

Though I consider myself part of the Orthodox Church, my philosophy and spiritual views are more influenced by digital physics, Gnosticism, and Russian cosmism than anything specifically Judeo-Christian.