Poll: Increasing number of Russians see inequality between poor, rich

A Gallup poll released Tuesday shows that 68 percent of Russians said inequality between the rich and poor has increased in the past five years, which coincides with a decrease in their standard of living.

Demonstrators take part in an unauthorized rally in central Moscow on March 26 against corruption. A Gallup poll shows that 68 percent of Russians said inequality between the rich and poor has increased in the past five years. Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA
Demonstrators take part in an unauthorized rally in central Moscow on March 26 against corruption. A Gallup poll shows that 68 percent of Russians said inequality between the rich and poor has increased in the past five years. Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA

Four other former Soviet Union members surveyed by Gallup have higher percentages of people who said inequality between rich and poor has increased: Armenia with 79 percent, Ukraine with 77 percent, Moldova with 77 percent and Lithuania with 75 percent.

Among 15- to 24-year-olds — whom Gallup said are generally more optimistic — 55 percent said inequality has increased. Among Russians aged 55 and over, 77 percent said inequality has increased.
“The personal financial situation of Russian residents plays a role in their perceptions of the inequality between the rich and the poor over the past five years,” Gallup said in a statement. “The percentage of Russians who say their living standards are getting worse has more than doubled in the past several years: More than one in three, 36 percent, of Russians said their standard of living was getting worse in 2016, compared with about one in six, 17 percent, in 2014.”

Despite the issues related to Russia’s economy and corruption allegations against government figures, Gallup in late March reported that President Vladimir Putin had an 81 percent approval rating in 2016.

In March, Russians carried out dozens of anti-corruption protests throughout the country against Putin’s government, some over recent allegations that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has amassed property worth more than $1 billion.

“These findings show that based on Russians’ sentiment, the perception that the protests in Russia are a youth phenomenon is not entirely accurate,” Gallup writes. “In light of these economic problems, it seems that the perception among Russians of growing inequality is grounded in reality. As the Russian public becomes more aware of the problems, it still remains unlikely that they will affect Putin’s approval rating.”

The Gallup poll’s results are based on face-to-face interviews conducted from April 2016 until June with 2,000 Russians aged 15 and older. The poll has a 2.7 percent margin of error.

By Andrew V. Pestano