familiarized with the inspection report of the Analytical center of Yuri Levada, the results of which sociological service has been included in the registry of foreign agents. The audit was conducted from 12 to 30 August, the occasion was the request of the leader of the movement “Antimaydan”, Senator Dmitry Sablin, said the press service of the Ministry of justice on request .
Levada-center, being funded by foreign organizations involved in political activities in Russia in the interests of these organizations, said in the inspection report of the Ministry of justice. Does this center, according to authorities, through preparation and distribution, including with use of modern information technology, of opinions about taken by the government decisions and policies, as well as the formation of socio-political views and beliefs, by conducting social research, opinion polls and publishing their results.”
As examples of participation by the Levada center in the policy of the Ministry of justice leads the eight speeches of the Director of the center Lev Gudkov and head of the Department for socio-cultural research center Alexei Levinson with links to them. In October 2014, Gudkov at the IV session of the Congress of the intelligentsia presented a paper on “the paradox of the success of the immoral power: violence and voluntary irresponsibility”, where, as pointed out by the Ministry of justice, he spreads his opinion about “the current system of power as the mafia and corrupt”.
“Power is described is always, in all cases, when we ask to name the typical features of our MPs, politics, government representative of the first position of the answers: arrogant, dishonest, inefficient, incompetent, corrupt, putting themselves above the law, above authority, immoral, void of understanding, etc. is Given a long list of not-very-nice definition. These characteristics give from 45% and below”, — quotes the Ministry statement Gudkov. “Also Director of the L. Gudkov expressed an opinion about the presence of authoritarianism in the system of the authorities”, — the report says.
Not satisfied with the Ministry of justice opinion Gudkov, expressed during his lectures in July 2016, about the political system of Russia as a closed authoritarian system where the government relies on security forces, intelligence services, oligarchs, government officials, bureaucracy and represents their interests.”
Officials also said Gudkov’s statements about the annexation of Crimea in an interview with radio “Freedom” in March 2014. The act provides the following quote: “the Whole situation with the Crimea, can be seen as a reaction to the weakening mass support for the regime and the growth of social discontent. This is a very important point. The feeling that the entire political system in Russia is just as corrupt as the Yanukovych regime, will not go away. I think after some time when the fervor and the influence of propaganda will weaken (this can’t last too long, will have the opposite effect), people will feel, first, the unpleasant consequences of the annexation of Crimea, and on the other hand, begin to wonder about why Russia found itself in political isolation, why the economic situation began to deteriorate dramatically”.
Alex Levinson, says the Ministry of justice, in an interview from June 2016 “stated opinion on the question of the adoption of the authority’s decisions:” I think if there are outbreaks of popular discontent, but only in places where there is concentration of problems or unexpected action by the authorities. Famous example — Pikalevo [a town in the Leningrad region, where local residents came out to protest against the closure]. Our government sometimes do stupid things, this may provoke a reaction”.
The Ministry of justice in its act also listed the materials the Levada center, which he considered political activities in the interests of other States. Among them the booklet “Democracy in Russia: the attitudes of the population”, the project “Monitoring of social and economic change”.
An aggravating circumstance for sociologists is that their materials are quoted in the media. “During check it is established that the results of the organization’s research are used by the media, both in Russia and abroad. For example, in the daily digest of the foreign press about events in Russia and in the world InoPressa regularly used data of research organizations. <…> In addition to the research carried out in various spheres of public life, the organization publishes articles and analytical materials concerning domestic and foreign policy of the Russian Federation”, — writes the Ministry of justice. The example shows the translation of an article in the international online newspaper the Christian Science Monitor from the February 2016, which refers to the possible involvement of the Russian authorities to campaign in social networks and on the streets against President Barack Obama. Well as Ministry officials cite the translation column the daughter of slain politician Boris Nemtsov Jeanne in the Russian English-language newspaper The Moscow Times called “a step backwards: the moral decay of Russia”, published in December 2015.
A large part of foreign funding, the Levada center has received from the United States, including the University of Wisconsin in Madison, who oversees the institution which is the Ministry of defense, stated in the inspection report. According to data published on the website of the Ministry of justice, the centre also collaborated with the George Washington University, Columbia University and the University of Colorado. In addition, the Levada center has worked with the largest American Institute of public opinion Gallup, one of the UK’s largest associations of marketing research Ipsos MORI, the German society for technical cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft Fuer Technische Zusammenarbeit GMBH), working with the government of Germany, etc. All of this cooperation is recognized as foreign financing.
Irrelevant to the election
In 2013, after the adoption of the laws on NGOs-agents, the center has repeatedly verified the Prosecutor’s office, then the status of a foreign agent, sociologists have avoided. Levada center is not the first NGOs, which include the registry for statements of guidance. In 2015, the big resonance was caused by the inclusion in the foreign agent of the funds “Dynasty” and “Liberal mission”, financed by the famous businessman Dmitry Zimin. Then the reason for the Ministry of justice for recognition of the political foundations in Moscow were seven lectures on modern politics.
NGO-agents are required to indicate their status in all publications in the media and on the Internet. They may not “carry out activities, promoting or preventing the nomination of candidates <…> the election of candidates <…>, as well as in other forms to participate in election campaigns, campaigns of a referendum, says the law” On basic guarantees of electoral rights”. The law does not indicate whether fall under this restriction on the conduct of pre-election polls. Levada-center can not give up all foreign contracts, said Tuesday Gudkov, and continued work on the publication of political ratings is open to question.
The power ratings that are published by the Levada center, traditionally lower than that of the two other major posterov — Thomas and the Polls. In early September the Levada center has published a survey according to which results the rating of “United Russia” has fallen markedly, from 39 to 31% of respondents (the survey of 1600 people in 48 regions from 26 to 29 August 2016). According to VTsIOM, United Russia is ready to vote 41% of respondents (the survey involved 1,600 people in 130 settlements, carried out 28 August), Thomas electoral rating of the party was 45% (survey of 3 thousand people, August 28).
The inclusion of the Levada-center in the register of agents associated with the upcoming fourth term of Vladimir Putin, said political analyst Alexei Makarkin. “The publication of pre-election ratings could be the last straw, the real reason is much deeper. There is a desire in the context of the upcoming presidential election to strengthen the control and to remove from the field of sociologists, who ask the population uncomfortable questions. This is due to the fact that the situation after the elections will be very complicated: there are plans to raise the retirement age, a large-scale cost reduction, etc. — and all this in conditions of the complicated geopolitical situation,” says Makarkin.