PRAGUE, 10 November, Caucasus Times. On 21-31 October 2006 Caucasus Times conducted public opinion poll among 400 residents of the capital of the Republic of Dagestan Makhachkala. In total, 185 women and 215 men have been polled. Representatives of local intelligentsia, students, employees, pensioneers as well as representatives of all major ethnic communities living in Dagestan were among those who participated in this public opinion poll.
Results of this opinion poll indicated mostly positive attitudes of the majority of the population of Makhachkala towards new republican leadership headed by Mukhu Aliev. Respondents’ attitudes towards changes in social, economic and security situation in the republic were mostly reserved or demonstrated rather cautious optimism.
Thus, responding to a question on how social and economic situation in Dagestan changed during the period from the beginning of 2006, 49% of respondents reported no changes. At the same time, 8% noticed that situation “improved”, 20% – “rather improved” and just 6% – “deteriorated” and 10% – “rather deteriorated”. 7% found it hard to answer this question. In total, those who tend to negatively or rather negatively assess changes in social and economic situation including those who reported no changes (65%) outnumber those optimistically-minded respondents (28%).
Those part of respondents who are optimistically-minded explain their standpoint by arguing that “industry and enterprises in Dagestan started to work”, “salaries of teachers and doctors increased” and “pensions are regularly being paid without delays”. On the other hand, pessimists, who also include those who reported no changes in social and economic sphere, indicate that unemployment in the republic continues to be very high and that increase in salaries is substantially less than increase in prices and taxes. Some respondents mentioned that increased and more effective federal center’s control over the republic is needed to bring order to social and economic sphere in Dagestan.
Most of those polled (40%) reported no changes while assessing situation in security sphere. In the meantime, significant number of respondents feel that situation in this sphere “rather improved” (23%) or “improved” (13%). Only 7% of respondents noticed that situation “deteriorated” and 10% think that situation “rather deteriorated”. 7% reported difficulties in responding to this question. Overall number of those who tend to critically evaluate situation in security sphere (57%) is much higher than number of those who demonstrated positive or rather positive attitudes to the situation in this field (36%).
Most of those respondents who consider that security situation changed for better, explain their position by pointing out that number of terrorist acts and cases of murder and kidnapping in Dagestan decreased significantly over the last several months. By contrast, many of those who reported no changes in security sphere, feel that situation in the republic remains dangerous and frequency of murders and kidnapping remains on the same level.
In the meantime, respondents’ assessment of the activities of the new Dagestani leadership headed by M. Aliev was quite favorable. 31% of those polled estimated the actions of the new republican leadership “positively” and 37% – “rather positively”. Only 7% gave “rather negative” assessment of the republican leadership and just 2% – “negatively”. Quite significant number of respondents (23%) could not answer this question indicating that it is too early to make any judgements.
Explaining their positive attitudes towards new republican government, respondents mostly stressed positive personal, leadership and business qualities of M. Aliev. In view of those respondents, M. Aliev “is trying to make changes” and “started replacing old officials”.
One can assume that high percentage of those who tend to evaluate new leadership of Dagestan generally positively (68%) can serve as indication of still high confidence of the population in M. Aliev rather than as a result of any real changes for better in the republic. At the same time, significant number of those who could not give any assessment to a new Dagestani leadership (23%) indicate that this part of respondents don’t have any certain opinion on that issue or don’t want to articulate their views in public.
Media preferences of the population in Dagestan
Overwhelming majority of respondents in Makhachkala (79%) indicated television as their most important source about current news and information. 5% of those polled mentioned international TV as their main source of information. At the same time, only 51% said they trust TV as a source of information. International TV enjoys confidence of 6% of those polled. Among the most populat TV channels were mentioned ORT (45%), NTV (40%), RTR (30%) as well as local Dagestani TV channel GTRK (14%). Among other popular TV channels are also Ren TV (11%), Kultura (3%) and TVC (2%). Among popular international channels were indicated Euronews (8%), Al-Dzhazira (1%), BBC (1%) and CNN (1%).
Newspapers are the second most popular source of information about current event (33%); at the same time, 29% tend to consider newspapers a trustworthy source of information. Characteristic feature of Dagestan is very high popularity of the local press, which is considerably more popular than federal print media. The most popular newspaper in Dagestan is “Novoe delo” (21%), “Chernovik” (6%) and official Dagestani newspaper “Dagestanskaya pravda” (5%) as well as local newpaper “Khakhikat”, which is being published in Avar language and is focused primarily on religious topics. Among federal newspapers the most popular are “Argumenty i fakty” (3%), “Izvestiya” (1%), “Kommersant” (1%) and “Rossiiskaya gazeta” (1%).
Contacts with relatives and friends proved to be the third most popular source of news and information (32%). Almost all those who resort to this source of information (31%) consider it trustworthy and reliable.
19% of those polled reported using Internet as their main information source. 17% tend to trust information they receive from Internet. It is remarkable that as in some other North Caucasus republics Internet as a source of information in Dagestan is more popular than radio. Among the most popular Internet site were indicated yandex.ru (6%), lenta.ru (3%), RIA Dagestan (2%), interfax (2%), gazeta.ru (2%), mail.ru (2%), site of «Novaya gazeta» (1%), site of «Nezavisimaya gazeta» (1%), Regnum (1%), newsru.com (1%), RIA «Novosti» (1%), and official site of the government of the Republic of Dagestan (1%).
Only 10% of those polled reported that they use radio as their main information source and only 6% said that they tend to consider information they get from the radio to be trustworthy. Nobody of respondents mentioned any international radio as their main information source. Among the most popular radio stations mentioned by respondents in Makhachkala were “Russkoe Radio” (4%), “Ekho Moskvy” (4%) and “Mayk” (1%).
This public opinion poll was conducted in the framework of 12-month project «Public opinion in the North Caucasus». This project covers all North Caucasus republics and is financially supported by the American NED foundation. All responses to survey questions are indicated in percentages. In total, 400 respondents of different sex, age and occupations have been polled.