Actual problems of Northern Caucasus in assessments of the residents of Republics
Keywords:public opinion, Northern Caucasus, social and economic problems, social tension, public discontent, criticism of authorities, unemployment, terrorism, corruption, poverty, housing and communal services, health, education, crime, youth, separatist mood
AbstractThe article analyses public opinion in the six republics of Northern Caucasus concerning the most troublesome problems that cause public discontent and protests. The analysis is based on the results of the sociological survey carried out by the authors in all North Caucasian republics in July-September, 2013. The survey involved representative opinion polls (sample sizes: 500 to 1000 respondents), 18 focus group discussions, and 13 in-depth interviews with opinion leaders. The survey is a follow-up study to the similar study conducted in 2011 which allows revealing the dynamics of public opinion on the key issues. The study showed certain growth of positive assessments of the situation in their republics; more people notice progress and development, not decay. At the same time, it should be noticed, that the republics of Northern Caucasus are characterized by authoritarian government; people are reluctant to publicly express critical views on political institutions and authorities; they tend to give socially acceptable answers to sensitive questions and give more positive assessments of the progress in republics than they would in private discussions. Simultaneously, they are more open and give more realistic appraisals discussing their everyday problems. According to the survey, for the last few years the list of problems that the residents of the North Caucasus republics are worried most has almost not changed. Four most crucial problems are unemployment, corruption, poverty, and terrorism. The fifth problem - high cost of the housing and communal services - was added to this list in recent three years. In each republic there are certain painful problems which are major cause of discontent; for people living in Chechnya this problem is unemployment; Dagestan residents point out corruption; in Kabardino-Balkaria - terrorism and unemployment, in Karachayevo-Cherkesia – poverty and low income; in Ingushetia – terrorism; in Northern Ossetia - poverty. The study revealed that public discontent concerning unresolved problems has not led to the growth of separatist mood; most of people living in North Caucasus republics do not imagine themselves outside of Russia.