Russian society is more friendly to the homeless and people with HIV

Research: society has become more friendly to the homeless and people with HIV


The Levada Centre has published its survey on social division, disapproval and tolerance amongst Russians towards different sections of society.

On 20 April the Levada Centre revealed the results of its survey on divisions in society, which was carried out as part of a wider research project named “Soviet Man”.


Russians are most intolerant towards “terrorists and paedophiles” with three quarters of those surveyed believing that they should be removed from society. The groups subject to the next highest levels of intolerance were “murderers” and “extremists / radicals”.

Any activity related to sex workers, homosexuals and feminists is still considered socially unacceptable within Russian society with those surveyed suggesting that there was no need to provide them with any support. However, the survey revealed that most believed they should not be suppressed: when asked how this section of society should be treated, most often those surveyed responded with “They should be left alone” or “Difficult to answer”.

Society has become more intolerant towards “members of religious sects”: they, according to the majority of those surveyed, should be destroyed or removed from society. There was also no desire to support drug addicts – 27% of those surveyed believe that they should be isolated – and only 15% believe that support should be provided to alcoholics.


The survey showed that society has become more sympathetic towards the homeless and people with HIV. In 1989, only 53% of those surveyed responded that people with HIV should be “given support”, whereas in 2020, that figure is now 79%. Support for the homeless has undergone a similar change: 42% in 1989 and 88% in 2020.

Society has also become more tolerant towards people with mental and psychological illnesses: two thirds responded that they must be supported.

Levada Centre sociologist Karina Pipia told Kommersant that “Over the past 30 years, stigmatisation of the socially vulnerable has softened and the idea that these sections of society should be given help, rather than being isolated, has become more commonly accepted.” As well as state support, the development of the non-profit sector and the emergence of groups working to improve the image of vulnerable groups as viewed by society at large has played an important role. In particular through openly discussing domestic violence and the lives of people with HIV.”

How the survey was put together

The survey was conducted from 20 to 26 February 2020 amongst citizens over 18 years old from towns and citizens across 50 different Russian Federation regions. 1614 people took part and they were all interviewed in person. Responses were recorded as a percentage of the total number surveyed along with data from previous surveys.

According to Levada, the margin of error when 1600 people are surveyed (with a 0.95 probability) 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%.


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