MOSCOW, November 8 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s extra-parliamentary opposition has grown in influence since last year, according to almost 70 percent of political analysts who contributed to the Valdai Development Index published on Thursday.
The Russia Development Index (Valdai Index) is an analytical initiative which grew out of the Valdai Discussion Club, and which seeks to harness the opinions of leading experts on Russia to review changes in Russia’s political, economic, social, cultural and international performance.
Although crowd numbers have declined since Russia’s anti-Putin movement held its first mass rally in central Moscow to protest the disputed December 4, 2011 parliamentary polls, the disparate alliance of leftist, nationalist and liberal forces retain a presence on Russia’s political scene.
According to the Valdai Index, just over 50 percent of respondents said Russia’s “extra-parliamentary opposition” had seen a slight improvement in its influence in the political system since last year, 17.8 percent said that improvement was “substantial,” while 2.7 percent said it was “very substantial.”
Over 68 percent of experts quizzed for the Valdai Index believed that the “extra-parliamentary opposition” had seen its “public trust levels” improve. Experts also noted a slump in public trust in President Vladimir Putin, with slightly over 30 percent calling it “substantial.”
In comparison to the perceived growth in the role of the “extra parliamentary opposition,” just over 30 percent of the experts who responded said that Russia’s parliamentary opposition – the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and A Just Russia – had seen a rise in political influence. The Index based its findings on the opinions of some 75 experts, the vast majority of them foreign.
However, last month the Center of Strategic Research surveyed 1,000 respondents in 5 cities across Russia and carried out focus groups looking at recent changes in Russia's political environment. Their report, commissioned by the Civil Initiatives Committee, indicated that Russians’ overall trust in politicians of all stripes – parliamentary and extra-parliamentary – had noticeably weakened.