Russians Don't Care About the Rich
The number of Russians who feel positively
about the country's richest people may be roughly equal to those
who feel negatively about them, but most citizens do not care
one way or the other, a new survey has found.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of those who feel
contempt, irritation and hatred toward the rich also perceive
themselves to be poor and disadvantaged.
The survey, released by the independent Levada
Center on Sunday, found the highest proportion of rich-haters
to be in the Southern, Siberian and Volga federal districts,
which analysts said reflected the cultural heritage of people
in these areas, as well as a tendency toward dependence on official
"People hate the rich more in places where
they think the rich's money could be theirs," said Maxim
Dianov, head of the Institute of Regional Problems.
The survey, which is conducted annually by
the Levada Center, found that the percentage of people who were
indifferent toward the rich grew slightly, from last year's
37 percent to 41 percent.
The rich were respected by 12 percent of respondents,
a slight drop from last year's 15 percent while those who said
the rich irritated them fell from 18 percent to 14 percent.
A total of 1,600 Russians across the country
were polled in the survey, which had a margin of error of less
than 3 percentage points.
Other feelings expressed toward the rich were
curiosity (15 percent), hatred (8 percent), contempt (6 percent)
and compassion (2 percent). Two percent of those polled would
not say how they felt.
Most positive about the wealthy were respondents
under 40, businessmen, people with a higher education and those
earning over 12,000 rubles ($400) per family member per month.
They also tended to be residents of large cities and were likely
to vote for the liberal Union of Right Forces, or SPS, party.
Those earning between 7,000 rubles and 12,000
rubles per month, students and law enforcement officers were
the most curious about the rich. Those who were curious expressed
political preferences for the SPS and Yabloko parties.
The most negative about the rich were those
older than 55, those who did not finish high school and respondents
whose monthly incomes were less than 7,000 rubles. Those who
felt contempt for the rich tended to live in small towns and
vote for the Communists or Yabloko, while those who hated the
rich lived largely in rural areas and mid-sized towns, and support
either the Communists or Rodina. There was no mention of the
United Russia party in the center's findings.
"There is a clear, direct and logical
correlation between sympathy -- or, rather, tolerance -- toward
the rich and respondents' incomes," said Irina Palilova,
a Levada Center analyst. "The idea that the rich came by
their wealth improperly is particularly strong among the poor
Citing poll results over several years, she
added that tolerance toward the rich was gradually growing.