Most Russians Don't Trust Anybody Else, but Believe They Have the Right to Deceive Others
By Svetlana Kononova
December 20, 2010
The Soviet system allowed citizens to shirk their responsibilities in return for dependence on the state. But two decades after the collapse of the system, Russian citizens are reluctant to trust each other, readily willing to cheat each other and skeptical of everyone apart from their closest relatives.
"She cheats and doesn't blush. But we are honest," claims an advertising billboard on the Moscow metro, depicting a rude and devious saleswoman. It doesn't matter what this poster is promoting what is much more interesting is that it appeals to customers by exploiting their deep fears and longings. A large-scale survey titled the "Post-Soviet Man and Civil Society," conducted by the independent Levada Center, found that most Russians find it difficult to trust other people. Such surveys have been conducted every year since 1991, recording the most important changes in the Russians' mentality since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The results of the survey reveal some bizarre trends. The number of people who trust others has decreased significantly over the last two decades. In 1991, only 41 percent of respondents were skeptical and suspicious. Now, 70 percent say they do not trust anybody, 72 percent do not want to help anybody, and 75 percent do not want to cooperate with other people in solving problems.