Bashkirova & Partners » Blog » Opinion Polls » Freedom of speech and free media

Freedom of speech and free media

Bashkirova and partners is happy to introduce a new study, exploring on how our people feel about freedom of speech and independence of mass media. A number of Russian publicists advocate the viewpoint where Russian citizens do not value such declared democratic rights as the right to unchecked information distribution and the right to free expression of personal views. The data of the representative all-Russia survey we have carried out proves - the mentioned opinion is wrong.


In exceed of a third of our interviewees (70%) are sure, governmental bodies should be able to restrain distribution of information, capable of injuring peoples’ religious feelings. At the same time three fourths of our people are found to dislike the idea of giving officials the right to suppress criticism in relation of the government. So we can state that Russians do not oppose freedom of speech, but they feel rational about the danger of interreligious hostility within the multinational and multiconfessional country. 


We can see the similar trend in relation of media freedom. 69% of our respondents believe media should have freedom of coverage mass political events sponsored by oppositional political parties, trade unions, social movements etc. On the other hand only 40% of Russians approve media focusing on the national security sensitive issues, thinking perhaps, this could negatively affect the national defense potential. 


Absolute majority of the study participants (85%), said that was important for people to be able to freely express their views in Russia. Freedom of speech (being a right to advocate one’s own opinion on publicly important issues) is found equally important for all Russian people of all ages, professional groups and individuals having different political convictions. We can see some correlation between estimating freedom of speech relevance and respondent’s income level. Thus percentage of people for whom freedom of speech’s of importance, is by 8% greater in middle class category, compared to value in low income groups.  

For 83% of our people media freedom is important. Typically this thesis is protected by the young more often than by elderly respondents, and by megacity dwellers compared to rural residents (by 6-7%). The greatest number of free media supporters resides in Moscow, the North-Western and Southern Federal Districts.

77% of the survey participants find it important that Russian citizens could use the World Web freely.  According to the survey resulting data, about 60% of Russians are using Internet daily, and additionally around 10% - at least once a week. It means that some share of respondents, being Internet non-users, still stand up against censorship online. (Our data shows 69% of respondents out of Internet non-users declare high importance of their and other Russians’ being able to use Internet with no censorship).

Summarizing everything mentioned above, based on the data of the national representative survey, we are able to confirm, that Russians see great value about such democracy enabled freedoms like: freedom of speech and freedom of media. However they are willing to cope with limitations and restrictions imposed by the government on information distributed if those are essential to provide public security in Russia.



This study was conducted in May 2015 based on all-Russia random route sample (18+) using face-to-face interviews in place of residence. Altogether 1500 respondents in 8 federal districts, 150 settlements, 200 sample points have been surveyed. The sample error made up ± 2,5%, C.I. is 95%. 












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