On 10-15 April 2009 information agency “Caucasus Times” held its regular public opinion poll in the capital of Chechnya Grozny. Overall, 400 residents of Chechen capital older 16 years old, mostly Chechens, representing different social, professional, age and educational groups, have been polled. Major goal of the research was to clarify attitudes of Grozny residents towards different aspects of corruption situation in their republic and towards other burning issues currently facing Chechnya. Separate question included in the questionnaire dealt with respondents’ attitudes towards federal policy in the North Caucasus.
Striking peculiarity of the research in Chechnya was the fact that unlike other North Caucasus republics significant part of the local respondents was extremely nervous and concerned about some issues discussed during interviews. Many of Grozny residents refused to respond to some questions included in the questionnaire. They explained their behavior by their unwillingness to have any possible problems with the republican authorities and by the fact that this opinion poll, in their words, “would not change anything”.
Nevertheless, poll results indicate that corruption situation in Chechnya and Grozny residents’ attitudes towards corruption are generally quite similar to situation in other North Caucasus republics.
Thus, similar to residents of the other North Caucasus capitals, overwhelming majority of the residents of Chechen capital (83%) reported personal experience with different manifestation of corruption in various spheres and social institutes, in the first place in education, health care system and in law enforcement agencies. Only 17% of those polled Grozny residents noticed that they did not have any personal experience with different manifestations of corruption.
Respondents’ answers to a question on “where, in your opinion, problem of corruption in Chechnya is the most urgent?” showed that top three most corrupt, in respondents’ view, structures in Chechnya include education sphere (61%), health care (55%) and law enforcement agencies (44%). It should be emphasized that those numbers are generally consistent with poll results in the capitals of the other North Caucasus republics. Apart from that, Grozny residents believe that corruption is also quite widespread in republican social security system (36%), in court system (32%) and in tax system (22%). 8% of those polled reported difficulties in answering this question.
83% of respondents in Grozny claimed any kind of personal experience with different forms of corruption; only 17% indicated they did not have personal experience with corruption. Most respondents had some kind of personal experience with corruption in health care system (44%), in education (33%) and in law enforcement agencies (27%). In addition, 19% of respondents had personal experience with corruption in social security system and 15% of respondents – in tax system. Only 4% of those polled could not provide answer to that question.
Respondents’ reaction to a question on how, in their opinion, scale of corruption in Chechnya changed in last recent years, demonstrated that most of those polled tend to assess changes in corruption sphere in their republic rather negatively. Thus, 34% of respondents felt that scale of corruption in Chechnya increased and 28% – “rather increased” while 13% think that level of corruption remained the same. Only 5% of those polled were quite optimistic about the most recent changes in corruption situation. Among them 4% thought that corruption in Chechnya “rather decreased” and only 1% felt that corruption decreased. Each fifth respondent (20%) could not answer that question.
As in the other North Caucasus capitals, Grozny residents’ expectations concerning the future development of the corruption situation in Chechnya proved to be mostly pessimistic. Practically half of those polled (49%) expect further rise in corruption in Chechnya in the years to come; among them 18% think that scale of corruption in their republic is going to increase and 31% – “rather increase”. 17% of those polled expressed opinion that level of corruption in their republic is not going to change. Only 9% of respondents demonstrated some optimism in this question; among them 3% are certain that corruption would decrease and 6% – “rather decrease”. 25% of those polled had difficulties in responding to this question.
Respondents’ reaction to a question on who is major source of corruption in their republic generally follows the pattern of the other North Caucasus republics, where local population tend to see major corruption source in the local authorities. Majority of those polled Grozny residents indicated that major source of corruption in Chechnya are the local authorities (45%). 33% of respondents consider federal authorities to be main source of corruption and 30% think that the local population represent major source of corruption in Chechnya. 16% of respondents could not answer this question.
Answers to a question about the attitudes towards the policy of the federal center in the North Caucasus revealed the domination of critical attitudes among Grozny residents. Thus, 33% of respondents were negative and 27% – “rather negative” about Moscow policy in the North Caucasus. Number of those who tend to assess Kremlin policy in the region positively proved to be much lower. Only 9% assessed federal policy positively and 11% – “rather positively” while 20% found it hard to provide answer to this question.
It should also be noted that number of those who are positive about federal policy in the North Caucasus turned out to be significantly lower in Chechnya than in neighboring Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria and North Ossetia. This can serve as an indication of more critical stance towards the policy of Moscow in Chechnya than in other North Caucasus republics.
Among the most important problems currently facing Chechnya the respondents mentioned social and economic problems, in the first place unemployment (66%), social insecurity (52%) and corruption (48%). Those figures are generally consistent with the opinions in other North Caucasus capitals, where people are increasingly suffering from the consequences of the financial and economic crisis.
Also, quite a lot of people in Chechen capital are concerned about the quality of education. Thus, 41% of Grozny residents indicated low quality of education as one of the most important problems in present Chechnya. 15% of respondents think that the main problem in their republic is illegal executions.
It should also be emphasized that unlike neighboring Dagestan, where 47% of Makhachkala respondents indicated religious extremism as major problem of their republic, people in Chechnya don’t consider this problem so important. Thus, only 14% of those polled in Grozny indicated religious extremism among most burning issues in present Chechnya. 7% of those polled found it hard to answer this question.