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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Pandemic, Poverty Feeding Russians’ Sense of Injustice in Their Country

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Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 7 – Russians are encountering what they see as cases of social injustice more frequently in the past year than earlier, the result of the pandemic which has highlighted that some have better access to the healthcare system than others and of rising poverty which means people have experienced deprivation or feel they will, a new survey finds.

            Conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation, the survey found that Russians do see the additional assistance the government has provided during the pandemic as a sign of increased justice but they say signs of injustice include low pay and pensions and inadequate medical care (

            Sixty-one percent of the sample say that Russian society is currently organized in an unjust fashion, the Foundation reports. Only 24 percent say that it is just. And because they believe it is unjust in economic terms given increasing income differentiation and stratification, they also see it as unjust in other ways including concern for others.

            Slightly more – 24 percent as against 15 percent – say that Russian society has become more unjust than it was rather than more just. But 49 percent say that things have not gotten better or worse recently. But the share who say they have experienced injustice personally has risen slightly over the last three years, from 39 percent to 46 percent.

            The Russians surveyed by the Public Opinion Foundation said that it was unjust for some to live in luxury while others were very poor; but this year, because of the pandemic, approximately 80 percent described as unjust a situation in which the medical care this or that Russian receives depends on his or her income.  

            Rising poverty also is unjust, respondents said, especially among the elderly who have seen their situation deteriorate because of increases in the pension age. Both pensioners and those near pension age were nearly unanimous in saying that this change was unjust. And many much younger Russians agreed with them, the foundation said. 

            But if a year or more ago, the problems of poverty and pensions were at the center of Russian concerns about injustice, this year, as a result of the pandemic, it was the adequacy of healthcare and the access different groups in the population have to it, precisely because those issues cut closer to the bone for more socio-economic groups.

Window on Eurasia — New Series