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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2110

Doubling down on RT;
Russians yearn anew for the USSR

Edited by Amanda Azinheira
January 9, 2017


December 2: 

The majority of Russians support an independent Ukraine free of Russian control, a new survey has found. 
Newsweek reports that, according to a new poll by the independent Levada Center, 63 percent of Russians favor Ukraine as an independent country that has a "mutually beneficial" relationship with Russia, with the conditions of that relationship unclear. The current state of play between Moscow and Kyiv, however, was far less evident to respondents. When asked about the ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine, only 29 percent of of those polld said that they regularly follow news related to the three year old conflict - a record low since the start of hostilities in the winter of 2013/2014. 

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Given the effect of Russia's increasingly authoritarian political climate on pollsters and respondents alike, the results of public opinion surveys in Russia should be viewed with some caution.] 

December 3:

The Russian government plans to invest $19 million in RT over the course of the next two years in an attempt to assist the news and propaganda outlet with "a number of language tasks," 
The Moscow Times reports. The Kremlin-backed media outlet has been praised by Russian President Vladimir Putin for its effectiveness in messaging, and the surge of new funding amid declining funding for other initiatives reflects an official vote of confidence in RT and its mission. 

December 5:

The Moscow Times reports that a majority of Russians now yearn for a return to the USSR, and are deeply nostalgic for the Soviet era. These are the findings of the Levada Center's most recent survey, which polled 1,600 people across 134 Russian towns, cities, and villages. Of these, 56 percent expressed regrets about the fall of communism, and an equal number having a positive view of the USSR's unified economic system and its status as a world power. 

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Given the effect of Russia's increasingly authoritarian political climate on pollsters and respondents alike, the results of public opinion surveys in Russia should be viewed with some caution.] 

December 6:

The number of Russian asylum seekers to the U.S. has increased for the fourth year in a row, reaching its highest level in more than two decades. The number of applications the U.S. has received has risen 164 percent since Putin began his third term in office in 2012. 
According to Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, the surge is linked to increasingly repressive governmental policies, including entrenched discrimination toward minorities, endemic corruption, and a reinvigorated crackdown on dissent. 

In particular, according to the accounts from lawyers working on these cases, there has been a sharp rise in the number of LGBTQ individuals from Russia seeking asylum in the U.S. Europe, meanwhile, has seen the same sort of surge is Russian asylum seekers over the past 4 years. Moreover, those seeking to leave Russia tend to be highly educated, working class citizens, further contributing to the country's brain drain and demographic problems.


Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program; Ukraine

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