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Russians favor Soviet-style economy

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More than half of all Russians favor a return to a Soviet-style economy and believe democracy could be sacrificed to maintain order, according to an opinion poll published yesterday.

Fifty-two percent of respondents to the poll, conducted by the independent Levada Center, said they favored an „economy based on state planning and distribution” - a reference to the Communist-era economic system. The figure has increased by 11 percentage points since 1997. The number of respondents who said they favored an „economy based on private property and market relations” declined in the same period to 29% from 40. The emergence of the market economy and the introduction of democratic freedom changed Russia’s economy dramatically in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But privatization has also been accompanied by plummeting living standards for many Russians.

President Vladimir Putin, who came to power in 2000, has made restoring order his priority. Opponents say this has damaged democracy and accuse Putin, who has to step down next year, of focusing political and economic power in the Kremlin. Under Putin, the government has also claimed back control over strategic sectors of the economy.

According to the Levada Center, 69% of respondents believe that „maintaining order is paramount even if democratic principles and personal freedoms need to be breached”. Only 18% of respondents thought otherwise. However, 66% of respondents said they believed authorities should remain under the control of the people, against 55% two years ago. The representative poll was conducted on November 20-23 among 1,600 respondents. Error margin was 3%. (people.com.cn)

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