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SPP 237

Author: Ellen Carnaghan, St Louis U.
Description: This paper examines "don't know" responses in Russian opinion surveys, using data from the 1969 Taganrog survey, the Soviet Interview Project, and a 1989 survey conducted in Moscow. It argues that, on the whole, it would be wrong to interpret the relatively large number of "don't know" responses in some surveys of Russians as indicating that a fearful population is hiding opinions hostile either to the old regime or to the emerging more democratic system. Rather, it seems that, on most questions, most of the time, "don't know" answers are concentrated in a relatively uneducated, uninformed section of the population, a section of the population that is uninterested in political life. These patterns mirror those found in Western opinion surveys. As a result, it is possible to infer that, even though many Russians are not answering survey questions, they do not represent a consistently anti-democratic segment of the population. As such, they represent no particular threat to emerging democracy in Russia.

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CSPP School of Government & Public Policy U. of Strathclyde Glasgow G1 1XQ Scotland