Staunton, June 7 – Now that Russians are less focused on the war in Ukraine and more affected by reports of terrorist actions in Europe and their own country, Muscovites are again pointing to what they describe as “the excessive number of migrants” in their city, according to a study by Aleksandra Chervinskaya of the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service.
As reported today on the Tolkovatel portal, Chervinskaya says that polls show 58.5 percent of Muscovites name the excessive number of migrants as the chief problem of their city, far outpacing corruption (42.2 percent) and fears of terrorism, which may or may not be related (41.6 percent) (ttolk.ru/2017/06/07/главной-проблемой-москвы-585-горожан-на/).
And just as the annexation of Crimea distracted Russians from problems at home, the scholar says, so too fears about migrants now overwhelm the concerns of Muscovites about poverty (16.1 percent) and the economic crisis (10 percent). Fears of immigrants were greater among atheists than among believers and greater among those with less education and income than those with more.
Chervinskaya also reported that there was a major gap between ordinary Muscovites and the expert community. The former focused on migrants as a threat while the latter talked about foreign policy issues, cultural decline, interethnic conflicts, demographic problems and domestic political problems.
Attitudes about migrants both reflect and reinforce certain attitudes the population of the Moscow region have about their own identities. The most important factor for them is their specific city of residence (24 percent), religious affiliation (19.5 percent), and Russian citizenship (18.1 percent). Only 17.4 percent mentioned nationality.
What that means, the Tolkovatel portal says, is that “’Russianness’ for the Russian population of the Moscow region turns out to be the main marker of self-definition.” Rather their identities are in a hierarchy of “Muscovite, Orthodox, Russian citizen, and [only in last place] ethnic Russianness.”
As far as the values of Muscovites are concerned, law and order ranks first (50.4 percent), followed by peace (46.3 percent), and tolerance (39.3 percent). Far lower are human rights and freedom (30.1 percent), economic power of the country (23.4 percent), and solidarity (21.8 percent).
Significantly, for Muscovites, “democracy” is even further down with only 13 percent of the residents of the capital agglomeration saying that was an important value for them.