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World

Russians who expect protests at highest since 1998: poll

  • Tens of thousands have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest against the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin.
  • The Moscow-based Levada Centre said an opinion poll conducted from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 showed that 45% of people expected fresh political protests, a jump from 23% last November.
10 Feb 2021

MOSCOW: The number of Russians who expect there to be new protests has jumped to its highest since 1998, although the willingness of people to take part has fallen to its lowest since early 2018, the independent Levada pollster said on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest against the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin.

The Moscow-based Levada Centre said an opinion poll conducted from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 showed that 45% of people expected fresh political protests, a jump from 23% last November.

The poll also found that 43% of people said they thought protests with economic demands were possible. That level was last recorded in November 1998, the year of Russia's financial crisis.

Despite those figures, fewer Russians said they were willing to take part.

Around 15% of 1,616 people polled in 50 different regions said they would be ready to turn out to a political protest. The poll also showed that 17% of Russians would be willing to take part in a protest linked to economic conditions.

Those figures represent Russians' lowest willingness to take to the streets since March 2018, according to the poll.

Some human rights groups and allies of Navalny have accused police of using disproportionate force to break up the recent protests in support of the opposition politician.

OVD-Info, a protest monitor, said police had detained more than 11,000 people nationwide during the rallies.

The Kremlin has rejected allegations of state repression against Navalny's supporters.

Navalny's team last week declared a moratorium on street protests until the spring and summer but has since urged Russians to gather near their homes on Valentine's Day to shine their mobile phone torches and light candles in heart shapes.