Most Russians highly value democratic principles but are willing to sacrifice them to ensure law and order in the country, according to two opinion polls cited by Kommersant, a leading Russian business daily.
The Kremlin's opponents at home and abroad blame it for backtracking on democracy and clamping down on political freedoms since early 2000s. International media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders has listed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin among "predators" of press freedom. Russian leaders deny such charges.
According to the Levada Center pollster, 66% of Russians value democratic principles, and 53% think the most important are civil rights (52% in 2007).
According to the Russia Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), 72% of Russian nationals are ready to accept "certain violations of democratic principles and restriction of personal freedoms" if it is required in order to ensure order. In 1998, the figure was 69%.
For 16%, democracy is more important even in cases when "following its principles gives certain freedom to destructive and criminal elements," also almost unchanged from the 1998 figure (15%).
Russian society links the word "order" with "political and economic stability" (41% this year, 38% in 1994); the notion of "being socially protected" (29% in 2010 and 11% in 1994). A fourth of those polled said "strictly observing laws" is important for order to be ensured.
As regards democracy, 21% said laws should be strictly observed (31% in 2001). A total of 44% said democracy's key values are "freedom of speech, press and religion" (the figure in 2001 was 55%).
MOSCOW, May 11 (RIA Novosti)
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