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INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

This survey was carried out October 24–30, 2019 with a representative sample of all Russian urban and rural residents. The sample comprised 1616 people ages 18 or older from 137 localities in 50 regions of the Russian Federation. The survey was conducted as a personal interview in respondents’ homes. The answer distribution is presented as percentages of the number of participants along with data from previous surveys.

The statistical error of these studies for a selection of 1600 people (with a probability of 0.95) does not exceed:

3.4% for indicators around 50%
2.9% for indicators around 25%/75%
2.0% for indicators around 10%/90%
1.5% for indicators around 5%/95%

In October 2019, the Levada Center repeated its survey on the importance of certain rights. These were listed on the response card (17 options total). This question was presented before in 2017. The top three most important rights in the eyes of the populace are: “life, freedom, and personal inviolability (privacy)”; “medical assistance”; and “fair trial.” The bottom two rights on the list were those related to civic engagement: “freedom of peaceful assembly and association” and “participation in public and political life.”

Compared with the results of the 2017 survey, this year we see a significant increase in the frequency with which answers were selected. In Russia as a whole, only two positions were not named more frequently: these were the “right to medical assistance” and the “right to free education and equal access to education.” Conversely, rights related to various freedoms were selected significantly more frequently: “right to freedom of speech,” “freedom of religion and freedom of worship,” and “freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”

Table 1. Distribution of answers from the total sample

WHICH INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS DO YOU THINK ARE MOST IMPORTANT? CHOOSE A FEW OF THE RIGHTS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU (respondents could choose more than one answer; ranked in descending order according to October 2019)

 THE RIGHT TO: Dec. 17 Oct. 19
Life, freedom, and personal inviolability (privacy) 72 78
Medical assistance 70 70
Fair trial 50 64
Social security, a decent standard of living 57 62
Free education, equal access to education 59 59
Freedom of speech 34 58
Work, good working conditions and fair pay 57 58
Inviolability of property and home (private property) 46 57
Vacation and leisure time 39 52
Right of possession 40 50
Freedom from violence, humiliation and arbitrary treatment 38 45
Having a family and marital equality 28 43
Freedom of movement and choice of housing 29 42
Freedom of religion, freedom of worship 22 40
Access to information 25 39
Participation in social and political life 16 30
Freedom of peaceful assembly and association 13 28
It is difficult to say 3 1

The increased frequency of answers (using the same survey methodology) could attest to the growing relevance of the topic, i.e. “human rights,” in public opinion. Respondents noted rights that they had not previously expressed as being important to them. In order to decrease the influence of increased answers, we can “normalize” the distributions according to the average frequency for each sample and rank the answers out of 100%. Following this, the greatest increase in importance (by 3 percentage points) is noted for “freedom of speech.” Among the top five rights not related to the “biological” needs of humans and their health (i.e. right to “life,” “medical assistance,” “social security”), beside “freedom of speech,” is the right to a “fair trial.” Recall that according to the results of another survey about Russians’ fears, there was an increase in fears related to limitations on freedoms in 2019.

Table 2. Distribution of answers from the total sample (recalculated to 100%)

 THE RIGHT TO: Dec. 17 Oct. 19
Life, freedom, and personal inviolability (privacy) 9 10
Medical assistance 9 9
Fair trial 6 8
Social security, a decent standard of living 7 8
Free education, equal access to education 7 8
Freedom of speech 4 7
Work, good working conditions and fair pay 7 7
Inviolability of property and home (private property) 6 7
Vacation and leisure time 5 7
Right of possession 5 6
Freedom from violence, humiliation and arbitrary treatment 5 6
Having a family and marital equality 4 5
Freedom of movement and choice of housing 4 5
Freedom of religion, freedom of worship 3 5
Access to information 3 5
Participation in social and political life 2 4
Freedom of peaceful assembly and association 2 4

Over two years, the perceived importance of “freedom of speech” increased not only among residents of Moscow (a twofold increase) and other major cities where people are more concerned about this topic, but also among provincial and rural residents. Moreover, the frequency of answers among Moscow residents did not significantly change, whereas among provincial residents the frequency increased by one and a half times, i.e. they noted the importance of certain rights more often.

Table 3. Answer distribution in relation to the type of place they live

  Moscow Cities with pop. over 500,000 Cities with pop. between 100,000-500,000 Cities with pop. less than 100,000 Village
2017 2019 2017 2019 2017 2019 2017 2019 2017 2019
Life, freedom, and personal inviolability (privacy) 68 68 73 85 70 81 63 75 80 76
Medical assistance 85 68 69 74 69 72 61 66 73 70
Free education, equal access to education 71 61 58 61 57 60 51 56 64 60
Social security, a decent standard of living 73 55 63 65 57 63 50 60 55 63
Work, good working conditions and fair pay 64 42 58 64 55 59 47 57 62 60
Fair trial 55 67 52 70 50 63 44 60 51 60
Inviolability of property and home (private property) 46 46 55 55 42 60 39 56 46 59
Right of possession 33 35 42 52 39 53 35 48 44 53
Vacation and leisure time 42 48 38 53 42 54 31 47 44 54
Freedom from violence, humiliation and arbitrary treatment 30 35 48 47 36 46 31 43 40 48
Freedom of speech 24 52 35 63 38 62 32 54 34 57
Freedom of movement and choice of housing 29 27 34 46 32 47 20 38 31 43
Having a family and marital equality 26 27 34 47 29 44 23 39 28 45
Access to information 27 30 30 43 25 42 23 36 23 39
Freedom of religion, freedom of worship 24 31 26 43 22 45 16 39 23 38
Participation in social and political life 24 15 18 35 12 31 13 28 17 30
Freedom of peaceful assembly and association 13 20 14 33 17 31 9 25 15 28

Translated by Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (formerly Monterey Institute of International Studies).

The ANO Levada Center has been included in the registry of non-commercial organizations acting as foreign agents. Read the Director of the Levada Center’s statement of disagreement with this decision here.

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