Damage to sociologists
Association of market researchers and public opinion (oirom), which includes the leading sociological services of the country, reacted to the recognition by the Levada center a foreign agent. That the Ministry of justice has included a leading independent research centre in the register of registered as a foreign agent, it became known on 5 September.
In an open letter, which is , FID expresses concern and disagreement with the inclusion of” Levada-center in the register of registered as a foreign agent and encourages the state authorities to reconsider this decision.
Under the open letter in support of the Levada center have signed up including heads of leading state and loyal to the authorities and research centers — all-Russia centre of studying of public opinion (VTSIOM) Valery Fedorov and the “Public opinion Foundation” (FOM) Alexander Oslon.
“I confirm his signature under the joint appeal by the FID in connection with the decision of the Ministry of justice to recognize the Levada Center a foreign agent. But I have a special position”, — said Oslon.
According to him, it separates the two components in the activities of the Levada center: professional “survey sociology” and public “political-journalistic”. “If the first is closed, it will cause damage to the survey activities in General, because of the Levada center we have the people, skill and experience to conduct surveys. This work I support. And journalistic work, when the polls are given as an argument, which should confirm some pre-formulated position on any occasion, I in this case do not support. It’s just a different profession”, — said Oslon. Fedorov at the time of writing was unavailable for comment.
Put his signature under the letter heads of “TNS Gallup Media”, MASMI, “GFK-Rus”, “MAGRAM Market research”, “Niccolo M”, “MarketSense”, etc.
To separate science from politics
“The sociological researches, including the study of public opinion, including the publication, analysis and discussion of the results is scientific, not political activity, — said in an open letter to the oirom. — The data of sociological surveys only reflect objectively existing socio-political attitudes and beliefs of citizens, not shape them. The distribution of these data serves the task of informing the scientific community, and Russian society as a whole formed to date in the public mind the views and attitudes”.
Representatives of the FID is considered erroneous practice of recognition of sociological research political activity/
The Levada center, noted in the letter oirom, has a reputation as a credible, independent source of information, which contribute in the exchange of information on the status and moods of the Russian society”, he is recognized by the scientific community within the country and abroad. The situation around the Levada center, important for “the reputation of the whole field of public opinion research in Russia and for the international image of the country as a whole, believe the authors of the letter.
Restrictions on the activities of the Levada center, which involves the law on NGOs-registered as foreign agents, will lead to problems associated with the creation of “a complete picture of social processes in Russia and the implementation of scientific communications”.
By virtue of the fact that the concept of “foreign agent” has in the minds of all segments of the population negative connotations, the decision of the Ministry of justice will reduce the level of confidence in sociological research in General continues sociologists. In addition, this will negatively affect the possibilities of gathering and effective use of information collected by sociological means.
Thus, the inclusion of the Levada center, the registry registered as a foreign agent creates “significant problems” for all Russian research companies claim to the oirom. The decision of justice “threatens the exercise of professional activities in the field of sociological and marketing researches in Russia,” I believe in the FID.
Three years ago, after the warnings of the Prosecutor’s office of Levada-center about the risk of hitting in the registry of foreign agents, ORION already published a similar letter in support of colleagues. Then Fedorov and Oslon also put their signatures under it.
In 2016 the reason for the inclusion of the Levada center in the registry of foreign agents have become the words of its Director, about “mafia of power” in Russia, criticism of the annexation of Crimea, and citing the research of sociologists in the article, the daughter of Boris Nemtsov, follows from the inspection of the Ministry of justice.
“We are grateful to our colleagues for their support. But it’s not just about support, it is the situation in the industry as a whole, because after non-profit organizations, problems can occur and other structures which are engaged in sociological researches, — said the Deputy Director of the Levada center Alexei Grazhdankin.
According to Grazhdankin, the professional community is trying to protect the ability to conduct sociological research, which in Soviet times was equated with political Subversion and was banned. Now, according to Grazhdankin, Levada center collects its objections to the position of the Ministry of justice, which, possibly, will be already presented in court.