Policy Memos

Russians Support NGOs But Not Parties: Implications for Donors

Policy Memo:


Publication Date:




In previous PONARS memos (see especially no. 221, also nos. 243 and 244), we presented October 2001 survey results showing weak support among Russians for human rights, particularly for civil liberties and the application of rights norms in concrete situations. Earlier this year we conducted another round of surveys and also ran nine focus groups in Russia in order to replicate earlier results and explore in more detail the potential (or lack thereof) for movements promoting human rights in Russia.∗
Earlier results with respect to broad attitudes toward human rights norms were confirmed by our more recent data. Here we focus on new findings that cast a somewhat different light on the potential for human rights organizations to garner support among the Russian public. Our data show a surprisingly high level of support for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) supporting human rights, and even for those opposing the war in Chechnya. In stark contrast, Russians think very poorly of political parties, as our surveys and focus also indicated, echoing the growing consensus among observers of Russian parties. As Russia heads into the national electoral season in 2003, the human rights community, political parties, and most importantly, international donors would do well to heed the story told by these findings. [...]

About the author

Professor of Sociology
University of Wisconsin-Madison