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Relations between the Russian state and society today
In January 2020, the independent research agency «Bashkirova & Partners» conducted a study with the aim of understanding relations between the Russian state and society. The survey involved 50 respondents, divided into two main groups of experts (analysts and representatives of the executive branch).
The interaction between the state and society is a complex and multidimensional process. According to two-thirds of experts, society should be more active and independent from the state. Today we are moving towards the establishment and strengthening of the democratic foundations of our country, and a strong civil society must occupy the central place in our state building process.
A third of the interviewed experts do not exclude the possibility that society is better off relying on the state in the field of politics and economics, and should only inform state representatives about pressing problems that require urgent solutions. The state, in turn, must respond to incoming signals and act in the interests of their citizens. Only in the case of active cooperation is it possible to ensure the well-coordinated work of the state system, social stability and sustainable development of the state and the individuals. According to experts, people are demanding legal state now and expect new leaders to act as bearers of this legal system. They are ready to defend their rights, including the right to freedom, to personal opinion, to a peaceful foreign policy, the purpose of which should be clear to citizens. Experts add that people view the violation of the law as morally wrong and socially unjust and demand that everyone, including the government, abides to the law.
Most experts tend to believe that basic civil institutions are underdeveloped in today's Russian society. The balance in interactions between the state and society has been disturbed. The state has a powerful apparatus and uses it to protect certain interests. The society does not always like this, but the state does not often listen to the opinion of the society. The vagueness of legal norms is becoming almost the main resource used by those in power for all-pervading control over the private life of citizens. Experts note that people feel dependent on the authorities, vulnerable to the arbitrariness of officials. At the same time, they believe that they cannot do anything about it, because they are not able to protect their rights.
A lot of movements and organizations have emerged and developed, in recent years in Russia, realizing in practice the functions of a civil society, among which human rights organizations, consumer protection societies, environmental organizations, associations in the field of science, culture and education, women's movements, etc. However, the scale of their activities does not meet the real needs for the formation of civil society. These are only the initial steps of the civil society building process.
According to experts, Russian society clearly has difficulties that prevent it from being called civil. Among the issues were mentioned the excessive control of the state, the lack of an economic basis for it, the limitations in private life of citizens, and the lack of the necessary quality development. Civil society in Russia is being formed simultaneously with the transition to a democratic and rule-of-law state. It should become the "engine" that will move the country in the direction of a democratic state and a market economy.