Survey of views of ordinary Russians on ‘foreign agents’
The All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre has analysed the views of ordinary Russians about foreign agents
On 26 September, the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (PORC) published the results of their survey on how ordinary Russians feel about foreign agents. The results showed that 61% of respondents think that foreign agents are traitors paid by unfriendly nations to spread lies about our country.
The researchers concluded that hostile attitudes about “foreign agents” are increasing among the public. Twenty percent think they are disreputable people, 18% think they are traitors to the Motherland, 9% believe them to be spies, 5% that they are enemies of the people, 5% that they are acting against Russia and 3% that they are working in the interests of another State.
According to the survey, foreign agent status can significantly affect people’s attitudes towards popular media, singers and actors. For example, 40% said they would stop listening to or reading about them if they were suddenly classified as a “foreign agent”.
On the other hand, 16% of respondents believe that foreign agents are standing up for the rights of citizens and freedom of speech in Russia, believing that the authorities are punishing them in order to intimidate others.
Two percent have positive feelings towards foreign agents, with only six percent of respondents speaking favourably about them. However, in general, 33% of those who took part in the survey admitted to having hostile views about them, with around one in five (22%) having no strong views either way.
In September, it was reported that the Justice Ministry had suggested that pseudonyms and former surnames should be included on the foreign agents’ register. The Ministry stated that they had come up with the changes “based on results derived from law enforcement practice”. The draft of the relevant departmental Act has been published on the Government’s draft regulations and legislation website.
The Ministry has also proposed that a foreign agent’s entry on the register should also include information on their previous name, first name and patronymic if they have changed, as well as the previous name of the company or association represented by the person on the list.
In July this year, the Russian President signed off legislation on unscheduled audits and the imposition of fines for those who help foreign agents by their “action or inaction”. The Justice Ministry is authorised to carry out these checks.