Russians convinced authorities have nothing to say about Medvedev film
The authorities have no answer to the investigation of Dmitry Medvedev's "secret real estate," almost 40% of respondents believe. The rest insist that officials do not have to defend themselves and respond to "absurd accusations."
"Discrediting by demagogy"
Russian officials have nothing to respond to the claims by Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) against Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Therefore, politicians "pretend that nothing has happened." This opinion is shared by 38% of the polled by Levada Center. The study was conducted from March 31 to April 3 among 1.6 thousand people in 48 regions of the country.
According to 19% of respondents, the authorities do not have to justify themselves and "drop their authority" and that officials do not consider it necessary to respond to "absurd accusations of people who discredited themselves with political demagogy and criminal actions." Almost a quarter of the respondents were undecided.
"He is not your Dimon"
On March 2, the Anti-Corruption Foundation released an investigation and a film about Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s residences and related funds that received 70 billion rubles of donations. On March 26 people of Moscow and dozens of major cities took to the streets demanding that the authorities react to the FBK’s footage. The largest rally was held in Moscow, and resulted in the detention of over a thousand protesters.
Medvedev reacted to the investigation a month later and called it "compote" and "dregs". The State Duma did not support the Communists who demanded checking the facts set forth by FBK.
In 2014, the citizens had an impression that Russia was a besieged fortress, now this view is being eroded, said Alexey Makarkin, the vice-president of the Center for Political Technologies. "When you are in a besieged fortress, you cannot criticize its commandant. And the one who shouts that the commandant in the basement has cheese and wine and needs to be dealt with is an enemy agent," the political scientist believes.
Today, according to Makarkin, the society is divided in half: one half still believes that one cannot be critical of the authorities, whereas the other half has a complicated attitude towards them. A large part of these 38% is among those 82% who approve the president, stressed Makarkin. "That is, you still can not touch the tsar, but you can fight the boyars," the political scientist concluded.
38% of the respondents have either seen the FBK’s film or are familiar with its content, or have heard something about it. The rest do not know anything about the Foundation’s investigation. These figures suggest that the state counterpropaganda has backfired, and opposition leader Alexey Navalny has become a politician of the federal level, believes Konstantin Kalachev, the head of the Political Expert Group.
"The citation level was raised by those Navalny critics, who began to deal with justifications. The first reaction was the right one, silence. By engaging in a discussion, quoting, just mentioning, you pour water on the opponent's mill, because everything except for an obituary is advertising. Medvedev himself was silent for a long time, but after the rallies it was impossible to remain silent," sums up the political scientist.
The overwhelming majority of those who know about the FBK film believe that the corruption schemes described in the investigation are either true or very close to it. Only 16% believe that Navalny’s movie does not correspond to reality. And three-quarters of those who watched the film and believed Navalny call what they saw "a typical phenomenon, a manifestation of the decay of Russian regime."
"Visions of corruption in the country's leadership have existed for a long time and are already rooted in the society," said Stepan Goncharov, Levada Center sociologist. He stressed that Navalny’s foundation only made the topic more polular, triggering people to take to the streets on March 26.
Similar figures were seen in late December 2015 after Navalny's investigation of the business empire of Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika’s sons. Then, about 38% of the polled heard about the FBK film, 78% of them either found it to be truthful, or did not discover anything new. Among those who found the investigation plausible, 82% called the corruption schemes described and links with criminal groups a typical phenomenon.