PUBLIC OPINION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOVIET UNION*

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1 International Journal of Public Opinion Research Vol. 4 No /92 S3.00 PUBLIC OPINION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOVIET UNION* Richard B. Dobson and Steven A. Grant ABSTRACT This article examines the relationship between public opinion and the transformation of the Soviet Union. Results of an August 1990 survey showed that the majority of adults supported democratic reform, but lacked confidence in the Soviet regime. Young and middle-aged people, urban residents, and those with higher education tended to be more supportive of democratic reform and more alienated from the regime. The nationalities differed widely in support for democratic reform and confidence in the regime. In the partly democratized political system, Boris Yeltsin acquired a broad following by appealing to the electorate and advocating radical change. A February 1991 poll showed that his support was greatest among Russians who backed the Russian parliament and strongly endorsed democratic reform and private enterprise. With such backing, Yeltsin won the June 1991 Russian presidential election and then mobilized popular opposition to the August coup attempt. The coup's failure dealt a fatal blow to Communist rule, Gorbachev's leadership, and the Soviet Union itself. The attempted coup by Soviet hard-liners in August 1991, which precipitated the breakup of the Soviet Union, might never have occurred if the conspirators had had a better understanding of public opinion. Reliable polls conducted before (and even during) the coup showed broad opposition to a return to authoritarian control, especially among the young and well-educated in the major European cities. Even the KGB could not be counted on to enforce a crackdown. Months earlier, the KGB chief, Vladimir Kriuchkov, ignored results of an internal KGB poll showing that 'the majority of KGB officers would not obey orders like those actually issued' during the coup (Kryshtanovskaya, 1991). In this article, we examine results of public opinion surveys to shed light on the remarkable political changes that have occurred in the former Soviet Union. We rely primarily on two surveys commissioned by the United States Informa- * The authors wish to express their appreciation to Ronald H. Hinckley, Mary Mclntosh, Anatole Shub, and Douglas A. Wertman for their thoughtful comments on earlier drafts of this article. The views expressed herein are those of the authors only not of the U.S. Government or the U.S. Information Agency. World Association for Public Opinion Research igga

2 PUBLIC OPINION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOVIET UNION 303 tion Agency (USIA). The first was conducted in eight Soviet republics in July and August 1990; the second, in the Russian Federation in February (Further details on the surveys and the scales used for the analysis are given in the Appendix.) After reviewing findings on support for democratic rights and confidence in the regime, we examine the 'new politics' that allowed Boris Yeltsin to rise to power. Portions of the analysis previously appeared in a series of USIA research reports (USIA, 1990a to 1991?). In pursuing perestroika, Mikhail Gorbachev ostensibly sought to create an efficient socialist economy, a 'law-based state', and a more democratic political culture (see Tucker, 1988; Lapidus, 1989; Lewin, 1991). Gorbachev faced this paradox: he needed strong central authority to achieve a radical decentralization of economic control and power; yet, if he succeeded, he ran the risk of losing his power 'to a degree that could lead to the breakup of the empire' (Odom, 1987, p. 28). The more than peoples who made up the USSR had been united by force; if given the opportunity to express their will, some of them were likely to choose to break away (see Conquest, 1986; Karklins, 1986; Hajda and Beissinger, 1990; Nahaylo and Swoboda, 1990). The reforms that Gorbachev initiated had a profound impact on public opinion in the Soviet Union. The policy of glasnost, which allowed citizens to openly discuss and criticize aspects of society that had been taboo, gradually stripped away decades of falsehood and raised profound questions about the CPSU's right to govern. Elections to the newly created USSR Congress of People's Deputies in March 1989 allowed the people, for the first time in seven decades, to challenge Communist domination (USIA, 1989; Urban, 1990). Although the great majority of deputies elected or appointed to the Congress were CPSU members, Communists no longer formed a monolithic bloc. Leaders of the democratic opposition, including Boris Yeltsin, coalesced around Andrei Sakharov in an 'Interregional Group of Deputies'. Broad opposition movements, generally with a nationalist coloring, emerged in most non-russian republics, and in the fall of 1989, a wave of upheavals swept over Eastern Europe as, one after another, the Communist regimes fell. Between fall and spring, elections to the republic-level parliaments, generally far freer than ever before, brought non-communist, pro-independence forces to power, and radical anti-establishment candidates fared well in the municipal elections in major cities (Colton, 1990; Slider, in press). In March 1990, the Congress of People's Deputies abrogated Article Six of the USSR Constitution, ending the CPSU's legal monopoly of political power. That same month, Lithuania reaffirmed its independence, thereby becoming the first republic to choose to leave the Soviet Union. Several other republics, including Russia, proclaimed their 'sovereignty', causing a 'war of laws' with the central government.

3 304 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PUBLIC OPINION RESEARCH POLITICAL CLEAVAGES IN 1990 In August 1990, five months after Lithuania's independence declaration and a year before the attempted coup by Communist hard-liners, results of a USIAcommissioned survey of 2,504 adults in eight Soviet republics showed widespread disaffection with the Communist Party. A majority of those interviewed said that they had little (22 percent) or no (34 percent) confidence in the CPSU; only a third expressed at least a fair amount of confidence in it (Table 1). Similarly, half the respondents (53 percent) disagreed with the statement, 'The CPSU is the only political force capable of governing the country in the decades ahead'; only a third agreed. The survey results also revealed much disillusionment with the centralized, state-controlled economic system. When asked to choose among three statements about Soviet socialism, about half of those polled said either that socialism in the USSR was flawed from the beginning and could never meet the people's needs (18 percent) or that its possibilities were exhausted ( percent). Only three in ten asserted that socialism was sound and had a future. SUPPORT FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS In the same survey, majorities voiced support for greater political pluralism and democratic practices. Two-thirds affirmed that people should have the right to demonstrate in the streets in support of political causes. Roughly six in ten agreed with the statement that 'the Soviet Union needs a multiparty system' (57 percent), that people should have the right to publish newspapers with any political orientation (62 percent) and that republics should be allowed to secede TABLE I (Confidence in Soviet institutions (USSR, 8/90) Question: 'On the whole, how much confidence do you have in the following organizations, institutions, and organs in our country a great deal, a fair amount, not very much, or none at all?' Great deal Fair amount Not very much None percent DK INA Total (2504) Soviet Army USSR Congress of People's Deputies USSR Supreme Soviet USSR Presidency KGB CPSU 3 16 IS

4 PUBLIC OPINION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOVIET UNION 305 from the Soviet Union, if their peoples so choose (60 percent). Large pluralities agreed 'completely' with these statements. After using factor analysis to confirm the existence of a common dimension, we constructed a general measure of support for democratic rights from responses to these four questions. On the basis of their composite scores, respondents were divided into three groups: 'strong supporters' of democratic rights ( percent of all respondents), 'moderate supporters' ( percent), and 'weak supporters and opponents' (32 percent). Ten percent of the respondents were not classified because they had stated no opinion on three or more questions. Not surprisingly, we found support for democratic rights to be higher among the more politically active strata men, urban residents, persons under 60 years of age, and those with higher education than among women, rural residents, persons 60 and older, and the least-educated. This general pattern was also found in the February 1991 USIA survey in Russia and in polls conducted in May 1991 in Russia and Ukraine (Times Mirror, 1991^). But much sharper differences were evident among the various nationalities surveyed (Table 2). Almost all Estonians expressed strong or moderate support for democratic rights, as did majorities of Tatars, Belorussians, Ukrainians, TABLE 2 Variations in support for democratic rights among Soviet nationalities (USSR, 8/90) Level of Support' Strong Moderate Weak 10 No Inf. percent Total N c Total sample Estonians Tatars Belorussians Ukrainians Russians Georgians Kazakhs Central Asians' 5 Others' i (2504) (61) (66) (77) (445) (1288) (71) (74) (245) (i54) 1 Respondents are classified according to composite scores derived from responses to four questions. For details, see the appendix. b Weak supporters or opponents of democratic rights. c Information on nationality was not available for 23 respondents. d Uzbeks, Turkmen, and Karakalpaks. c Includes all Soviet nationalities not identified in the table.

5 306 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PUBLIC OPINION RESEARCH Russians, and Georgians. On the other hand, only three in ten Kazakhs and two in ten Central Asians voiced such support for democratic practices. Multiple classification analysis further revealed that the variations in nationalities' support for democratic rights remained substantial even when controlling statistically for sex, age, urban/rural residence, education, occupational status, and CPSU membership. Nationality (b =.28), age (b =.19), and education (b =.16) had the strongest independent effects on support for democratic rights. FALTERING SUPPORT FOR THE SOVIET REGIME To assess support for the Soviet regime, we calculated composite scores based on six questions about confidence in key Soviet institutions: the USSR Congress of People's Deputies, the USSR Supreme Soviet, the Soviet Presidency, the Soviet Army, the KGB, and the CPSU (Table 1 above). Responses to the six questions were strongly correlated, and factor analysis confirmed the existence of a common dimension ('support for the Soviet regime') among them. According to their composite scores on the six items, respondents were divided into three groups: those who had, on average, at least a fair amount of confidence (33 percent of the total), those who had some confidence (32 percent), and those who had little or no confidence ( percent). Six percent of the respondents were not classified. It is significant that confidence in the Soviet regime, even under the reformer Gorbachev, was inversely related to support for democratic rights (r=.34). Half the weak supporters and opponents of democratic rights had at least a fair amount of confidence in the regime. But only a quarter of the moderate supporters of democratic rights and a fifth of the strong supporters had a fair amount of confidence. This pattern is the opposite of what is typically found in Western democracies, where proponents of democratic values tend to be supportive of the states embodying those values. The inverse relationship highlights the contradiction that lay at the heart of perestroika: the 'democratic forces' which Gorbachev's reforms had activated were suspicious of the key institutions of the Soviet regime. In August 1990, the limited 'revolution from above' that Gorbachev had started was already giving way to a more radical 'revolution from below'. When analyzed in terms of social-demographic characteristics, confidence in Soviet institutions was found to be somewhat higher among rural residents, persons 60 years of age and over, and the least-educated. As before, however, the differences among nationalities were much more pronounced (Table 3). At one extreme, six in ten members of the Central Asian nationalities and half the Kazakhs expressed, on average, at least a fair amount of confidence in the regime. The proportion declined to a third among the Russians and Ukrainians

6 PUBLIC OPINION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOVIET UNION 307 TABLE 3 Variations in confidence in the Soviet regime among Soviet nationalities (USSR, 8/90) Level of Confidence 1 Fair amount Some Little No inor none formation percent Total N b Total sample Estonians Tatars Belorussians Ukrainians Russians Georgians Kazakhs Central Asians 0 Others' i (2504) (61) (66) (77) (445) (1288) (70 (74) (245) (154) 1 Respondents are classified according to composite scores derived from responses to six questions. For details, see the appendix. b Information on nationality was not available for 23 respondents. c Uzbeks, Turkmen, and Karakalpaks. d Includes all Soviet nationalities not identified in the table. and to a quarter among the Belorussians. At the other extreme, few Tatars and Georgians, and none of the Estonians surveyed, expressed confidence in the regime. These ethnic differences, too, remained substantial when controlling statistically for sex, age, urban/rural residence, education, occupational status, and CPSU membership. Multiple classification analysis, using these variables, indicated that nationality {b =.33) and age (b=.26) had the strongest independent effects on confidence. THE ALIGNMENT OF POLITICAL FORCES To provide a sharper picture of the political divisions in Soviet society, we constructed a typology of five political groups based on two intersecting dichotomies, as shown in Fig. 1. The first dichotomy, on the confidence scale, was between persons who had at least a fair amount of confidence in the regime (the 'pro-regime') and those who had less confidence (the 'disaffected'). The second was between strong and moderate supporters of democratic rights ('reformers'), on the one hand, and weak supporters and opponents ('authoritarians'), on the other. 'Disaffected reformers' were in turn subdivided into

7 3o8 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PUBLIC OPINION RESEARCH 'moderates' and 'radicals' according to the intensity of their support for democratic rights. Thirteen percent of the respondents could not be classified because information was lacking on one or both of the dimensions. FIGURE I Typology of five political groups Support for Democratic Reform Reformers Authoritarians Support for the Regime Pro-regime Pro-regime reformers (14 percent) Pro-regime authoritarians (16 percent) Disaffected Disaffected reformers: moderate (20 percent) radical (23 percent) Disaffected authoritarians (13 percent) Members of these groups differed in their social characteristics and degree of political involvement (Table 4). They also varied in their attitudes toward Communist rule and socialism, a fact that provides further confirmation of the typology's analytical value (Table 5). The sharpest contrast was, as expected, between the pro-regime authoritarians, who constituted the old guard of the totalitarian order, and the disaffected radical reformers. Three-quarters of the pro-regime authoritarians regarded the CPSU as 'the only force capable of governing the country in the decade ahead', and six in ten believed that the Soviet socialist system 'is sound and has a future'. Less than a fifth viewed the non-communist governments in Eastern Europe as 'a good thing'. Relative to those in the other four groups, pro-regime authoritarians tended to be the oldest (a third were 60 years of age or older), the leasteducated (three in ten had no more than nine years of schooling), and the least urban (57 percent urban, 43 percent rural). They also were least likely to listen to Western radio broadcasts and the least politically involved (only three in ten said they 'often' discussed political matters with friends and acquaintances). This group, as well as the pro-regime reformers, contained somewhat larger proportions of CPSU members than did the other groups. At the other pole, only one in ten of the disaffected radical reformers regarded the CPSU as the indispensable governing force, and the same small proportion thought that Soviet socialism had a future. Eight in ten applauded the establishment of non-communist governments in Eastern Europe. Disaffected

8 PUBLIC OPINION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOVIET UNION 309 TABLE 4 Social composition of attitudinal groups (USSR, 8/90) Groups' PRA (410) PRR (3i3) DA (361) percent 1 " DMR (512) DRR (574) Gender Men Women Urban/rural Urban Rural i Age Under and over Education 7 years or less 8 9 years Secondary 1 Higher CPSU member Discusses politics 'often' Listens to foreign radio d 14 3i ' Categories are labeled as follows: PRA, pro-regime authoritarians; PRR, pro-regime reformers; DA, disaffected authoritarians; DMR, disaffected moderate reformers; and DRR, disaffected radical reformers. b Subgroups do not always add up to percent because of missing information for some respondents and rounding errors. c Complete general or specialized secondary education. 6 Listened to one or more of six named Western radio stations in the previous three months.

9 3io INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PUBLIC OPINION RESEARCH TABLE 5 Group differences regarding Communist rule and future of Socialism (USSR, 8/90) View CPSU as governing force' Endorse Non- Comtn. govts. in East Europe* percent Believe in future of Socialism 0 N Total sample Pro-regime authoritarians Pro-regime reformers Disaffected authoritarians Disaffected moderate reformers Disaffected radical reformers Not classified d (2504) (410) (3i3) (361) (512) (574) (334) ' Percent agreeing completely or partly with the statement that 'the Soviet Communist Party is the only political force capable of governing the country in the decade ahead'. b Percent saying that the non-communist governments that recently came to power in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and other East European countries are 'a good thing'. c Percent saying that 'Soviet socialism is sound and has a future'. d Not placed in a group because the respondent had not answered a sufficient number of questions on support for democratic rights or confidence in the government. radical reformers tended to be the youngest (half were under 40), the besteducated (three in ten had completed higher education), and the most heavily urban (83 percent). They were more likely than others to listen to Western radio broadcasts and were the most politically involved (six in ten said they 'often' discussed political questions with friends and acquaintances). The differences among the peoples of the USSR were again striking. Seven in ten Estonians were disaffected radical reformers; an additional fifth were disaffected moderate reformers. These two groups predominated among the Tatars (41 percent and 30 percent, respectively) and accounted for 44 to 54 percent of the Belorussians, Ukrainians, and Russians. However, pro-regime authoritarians constituted the largest group among the Kazakhs (34 percent) and Central Asians (39 percent), with disaffected authoritarians being the second largest (19 percent and 14 percent, respectively). The survey data thus point to marked differences in political orientation among the nationalities. The most basic cleavage appeared to be between the 'European' peoples and the Kazakhs and Central Asians, whose culture is rooted largely in Islamic traditions. The Muslim peoples were much less supportive of democratic rights and more supportive of the old regime than the 'Europeans'. (It is worth noting that, at the time, the Communist Party retained a stronger grip on power in Kazakhstan and the four Central Asian republics than it did in

10 PUBLIC OPINION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOVIET UNION most parts of the country.) Among the European peoples, there was further differentiation between the Slavs (Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians), who constituted roughly two-thirds of the Soviet population, and some smaller nationalities (e.g., Estonians and probably the other Baltic peoples), who were both more supportive of democratic rights and more alienated from the regime. Georgians had a distinctive profile. They were more like the Slavs than the Muslim peoples in their support for democratic rights, but more like the Estonians in their alienation from the Communist regime. Georgians were divided between disaffected radical and moderate reformers (16 percent and 42 percent, respectively), on the one hand, and disaffected authoritarians (39 percent), on the other. In the European regions of the USSR, the alignment of political forces in August 1990 appeared more conducive to further democratization and radical change than to a restoration of the old order. Even then, pro-regime and disaffected authoritarians, the natural constituency for reactionary forces like the 'Committee for the State of Emergency' that attempted to seize power in August 1991, accounted for a distinct minority (about three-tenths) of the adult population in the Russian and Ukrainian heartland. Moreover, they were disproportionately composed of the old, the rural, and the least-educated. 31I THE NEW POLITICS: YELTSIN'S RISE TO POWER The partial democratization of the Soviet political system allowed individuals to gain power through appeals to the electorate, rather than through party appointments and patronage. Boris Yeltsin proved to be a skillful politician who could capitalize on the new opportunities. Relations between Gorbachev and Yeltsin changed abruptly in October 1987, when at a Plenum of the CPSU Central Committee, Yeltsin complained that reform was proceeding too slowly and critized a Politburo member (Yegor Ligachev) by name (see Bialer, 1989). After being dismissed as head of the Moscow Party Organization and expelled from the Politburo, Yeltsin seemed destined for political oblivion. But in March 1989, he staged an unprecedented political comeback when Muscovites overwhelmingly elected him to the USSR Congress of People's Deputies. In May-June 1990, Gorbachev unsuccessfully tried to block his election as chairman of the RSFSR Supreme Soviet. Two months later, at the 28th CPSU Congress, Yeltsin resigned from the party. The political differences between Gorbachev and Yeltsin widened further in the fall of In September, after being sharply criticized by Communist hard-liners, Gorbachev veered away from the radical '500 Days' plan for economic reform that Yeltsin supported, and in the following months, he relied increasingly on the CPSU apparatus, Army, and KGB for support. On

11 312 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PUBLIC OPINION RESEARCH December 19, Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze suddenly resigned, warning of the danger of an impending dictatorship. Shevardnadze called on democratic forces to unite against 'reactionaries' who sought to re-establish an authoritarian regime. Yeltsin's relations with Gorbachev were strained to the limit in January 1991, when Soviet military units were deployed against the independence-minded Lithuanian and Latvian republics. Soviet troops stormed government buildings in Vilnius, killing more than a dozen unarmed civilians and wounding scores of others. Yeltsin flew to Tallinn to denounce the brutal crackdown in Vilnius and Riga and to proclaim his solidarity with the Baits. In a foreshadowing of the August coup attempt, the Soviet Defense Minister, Dmitrii Yazov, stated that the popularly elected Lithuanian parliament was illegitimate and that local military commanders were taking orders from a clandestine 'Committee for National Salvation'. The following month, in a nationally televised address (while one of the USIA surveys was in the field), Yeltsin accused Gorbachev of deceiving the people and demanded that he resign and transfer power to the Federation Council made up of republic leaders. APPROVAL RATINGS TRACKED GORBACHEV'S DECLINE AND YELTSIN'S RISE Soviet public opinion polls showed marked changes in approval for the two leaders between December 1989 and December Surveys conducted in the RSFSR by the Ail-Union Center for the Study of Public Opinion found that the percentage of adults who had 'complete confidence' in or who 'fully approved' of Gorbachev declined from 52 percent in December 1989 to 28 percent in July 1990, 21 percent in October, and percent in December. During the same period, the proportion of RSFSR adults who expressed 'complete confidence' in or 'full approval' for Yeltsin rose from 28 percent in December 1989 to 71 percent in July 1990 and then declined to 52 percent in December (VTsIOM, 1991, p. 16).' A February 1991 poll by the All-Union Center asked a representative sample of 2,263 RSFSR adults to choose between Gorbachev and Yeltsin on various statements (VTsIOM, 1991, p. 8). (The question asked, 'If you compare Gorbachev and Yeltsin, then which of them [statement]?') RSFSR residents said that Yeltsin was 'closer to the people' than Gorbachev (59 percent to 16 percent), was 'more likable to them personally' (52 percent to 20 percent), had 'a more thought-out program' (45 percent to 19 percent), and 'would be better as the 1 It should be noted that the response categories in these surveys are not identical to those used in the USIA surveys; therefore, the percentages are not exactly comparable to those reported below.

12 PUBLIC OPINION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOVIET UNION 313 country's leader' (40 percent to 19 percent). On the other hand, large majorities thought that Gorbachev 'has more real power' than Yeltsin (72 percent to 9 percent) and 'has greater prestige in the international arena' (62 percent to 18 percent). SOURCES OF SUPPORT FOR YELTSIN AND GORBACHEV The February 1991 USIA survey found that half of the 1,989 RSFSR residents polled had at least a fair amount of confidence in Yeltsin, whereas about a third had at least a fair amount of confidence in Gorbachev. There was no correlation between the two confidence measures. Persons who had confidence in Gorbachev were neither more nor less likely to have confidence in Yeltsin than those who did not have confidence in Gorbachev, and vice versa. In examining social-demographic variations in support for the two leaders, we found that Yeltsin enjoyed roughly the same level of trust among men and women, young and old, and urban residents and villagers. In contrast, Gorbachev received greater backing from people living in villages and small towns than among those from large and medium-size towns (40 percent to 31 percent) and from persons 60 years of age and older than among those under 30 (49 percent to 24 percent). Both leaders had greater support among the least-educated than among those with a full secondary or higher education. More revealing differences emerged when we examined how confidence in the two leaders was related to several political variables (Table 6). Communist Party Membership Yeltsin had the support of half of those who did not belong to the CPSU, but of only a third of those who were CPSU members. The relationship was reversed for Gorbachev, who was trusted by a larger proportion of CPSU members than nonmembers. Attitude Toward Communist Rule On the basis of their answers to two questions about the CPSU, respondents were classified into three groups: 'Communist loyalists' ( percent of all adults), 'the disillusioned' (31 percent), and 'anti-communists' (37 percent). Support for Yeltsin varied remarkably little among these groups. In contrast, confidence in Gorbachev was four times greater among Communist loyalists than among anti-communists (64 percent to 15 percent). Support for Private Enterprise According to their responses to five questions about private ownership, respondents were classified as 'strong proponents' (24 percent of all adults), 'cautious backers' (27 percent), and 'resisters and opponents' (44 percent) of private enterprise. Trust in Yeltsin was somewhat

13 314 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PUBLIC OPINION RESEARCH greater among strong proponents (59 percent) than among the others. Conversely, confidence in Gorbachev was higher among resisters and opponents of private enterprise (41 percent) than among the others. Support for Democratic Reform Based on their answers to four questions about democratic rights and practices, respondents were classified as 'radical supporters' (24 percent of all adults), 'moderate supporters' (23 percent), and 'weak supporters and opponents' (48 percent) of political pluralism and democratic reform. Confidence in Yeltsin was greater among radical supporters of democratic reform (64 percent) than it was among the other groups. On the other hand, confidence in Gorbachev was greater among weak supporters and opponents of democratic reform (45 percent) than among the others. Opinion of the RSFSR and USSR Parliaments More Russians had at least a fair amount of confidence in the Russian Supreme Soviet (51 percent) than the USSR Supreme Soviet (36 percent). Support for Yeltsin and Gorbachev, in turn, was highly correlated with confidence in the parliament with which each leader was associated. Yeltsin enjoyed the trust of eight in ten people who had confidence in the RSFSR parliament, but of only two in ten people who lacked confidence in it. Gorbachev was trusted by seven in ten who had confidence in the USSR parliament, but by only 14 percent of those who did not. To recapitulate, Gorbachev garnered the greatest support among the most 'conservative' segments of the population: people who had confidence in the Soviet parliament (72 percent), Communist loyalists (64 percent), people 60 years of age and older (49 percent), and those who opposed or weakly supported democratic reforms (45 percent). On the other hand, Yeltsin received the greatest backing among people who had confidence in the Russian parliament (79 percent), strongly supported democratic reform (64 percent), and strongly favored private enterprise (59 percent). As we have noted, however, Yeltsin also garnered support from other groups (e.g., Communist loyalists, 46 per cent). The analysis demonstrates that support was related to the two leaders' political platforms and institutional affiliations. While seeking to reform the system, Gorbachev remained a committed Communist who was devoted to preserving socialism and a strong Soviet Union. In contrast, Yeltsin challenged the CPSU's right to lead, attacked Party officials' privileges, endorsed wideranging privatization of the economy, advocated a decentralized, voluntary association of republics, and stressed Russian sovereignty. Yeltsin's radical stance enabled him to gain the backing not only of the 'Democratic Russia' movement and other radical-reformist political groups, but

14 PUBLIC OPINION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOVIET UNION 315 TABLE 6 Confidence in Yeltsin and Gorbachev by CPSU membership and political attitudes (RSFSR, 2/91) Confidence««Yeltsin Gorbachev percent N b Total sample CPSU membership Member Not member Attitude toward Communist rule 0 Communist loyalist Disillusioned Anti-Communist Attitude toward private enterprise 0 Strong proponent Cautious backer Resister, opponent Attitude toward democratic reform 0 Radical supporter Moderate supporter Weak supporter, opponent Opinion of RSFSR parliament Has confidence in Lacks confidence in Opinion of USSR parliament Has confidence in Lacks confidence in i (1989) (191) (98) (572) (610) (73i) (473) (532) (875) (486) (462) (964) (1022) (621) (723) (950) Those expressing at least a fair amount of confidence when asked separately about each leader. b The A' for subgroups does not necessarily equal the total A 7 (1989) because some respondents did not state an opinion. c Based on composite scores (see the appendix). also of people who were simply dissatisfied with the lack of results of perestroika and with Gorbachev's indecisiveness. Yeltsin also broadened his appeal by cultivating an image as a populist fighting for the common people, a champion of Russian sovereignty, and a hard-headed pragmatist who had no use for political cliches. When Gorbachev and others assailed him for seeking 'to re-establish capitalism', for example, he rejected conventional ideological classification. As he put it in an address to 'Democratic Russia' supporters (broadcast by Russian Radio on June 1, 1991), 'When I am constantly asked during my trips are you for socialism or capitalism I say: I am in favor of Russians living better

15 316 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PUBLIC OPINION RESEARCH materially, spiritually, and culturally.... As for a name, people will think one up'. This 'post-communist' approach to politics, combined with his image as a populist and defender of Russia's interests, enabled him to win the support of people who were not necessarily 'democratic' or 'radical' in their political views. Results of the RSFSR presidential election, held on June 12, 1991, confirmed the polls showing Yeltsin's broad support. By soundly defeating the five other contenders, he became Russia's first popularly elected leader and gained a democratic legitimacy that Communist leaders from Lenin to Gorbachev lacked. According to the final tally released on June 19, Yeltsin received 57 percent of the nearly 80 million ballots cast. Former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov, who had the backing of the Russian Communist Party, came in second with percent, and Vladimir Zhirinovskii, a nationalist demagogue and xenophobe, placed third with 8 percent. The other three candidates (all Communists) received 3 to 7 percent each. Yeltsin won huge majorities (65-90 percent of the vote) in such major cities as Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg), Rostov-on-Don, Moscow, Omsk, Leningrad (St. Petersburg), and Novosibirsk. But he generally ran well in small towns, rural areas, and military units as well. Only in a few ethnic minority enclaves did Ryzhkov outpoll him. FROM SOVIET UNION TO COMMONWEALTH The failed August 1991 coup by Communist hard-liners further bolstered Yeltsin's standing (Vasilyev, 1991; Zaslavskaya, 1992). By standing up to the 'Committee', he galvanized the nation's resistance and earned the West's admiration. A telephone survey of a thousand people in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the first three days of September (Times Mirror, 1991a) found that Yeltsin's approval rating was 78 percent, well above the level recorded in a May survey (56 percent). The percentage expressing a favorable opinion of Gorbachev was also higher (56 percent, up from 30 percent in May). However, when asked who could solve the country's problems, the Russians interviewed much more often expressed confidence in Yeltsin (45 percent) and the Russian parliament (21 percent) than in Gorbachev (6 percent) and the USSR Congress of People's Deputies (8 percent). The great majority had a 'very' or 'mostly' unfavorable opinion of the Communist Party (71 percent vs 69 percent in May) (L.A. Times 1991). The coup attempt dealt a fatal blow to continued Communist rule, Gorbachev's tenure as President, and the Soviet Union itself. Yeltsin moved quickly to ban the Russian Communist Party and to seize its property. On September 5, the USSR Congress of People's Deputies transferred power temporarily, as it turned out to a state council made up of republic leaders. With Yeltsin's

16 PUBLIC OPINION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOVIET UNION 3 blessing and strong international support, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia succeeded in regaining their independence. Gorbachev was widely blamed for the coup attempt not only because the conspirators were his hand-picked appointees, but also because his indecisiveness had encouraged them. He was forced to watch passively as the Communist Party was dissolved and the possibility of a renewed Union slipped from his grasp. On December 1, Ukraine, the second largest republic, held a referendum that overwhelmingly endorsed Ukrainian independence. A week later, Yeltsin orchestrated the creation of a Commonwealth of Independent States, and thus the dissolution of the USSR, leaving Gorbachev with little choice but to resign. REFERENCES Bialer, Seweryn (1989): 'The Yeltsin Affair: The Dilemma of the Left in Gorbachev's Revolution'. In Bialer, Seweryn (ed.), Politics, Society, and Nationality Inside Gorbachev's Russia, Boulder and London, Westview, pp Colton, Timothy J. (1990): 'The Politics of Democratization: The Moscow Election of 1990', Soviet Economy, 6, no. 4, Conquest, Robert, (ed.) (1986): The Last Empire: Nationality and the Soviet Future, Stanford, CA, Hoover Institution Press. Hajda, Lubomyr and Beissinger, Mark, (eds.) (1990): The Nationalities Factor in Soviet Politics and Society, Boulder and London, Westview. Karklins, Rasma (1986): Ethnic Relations in the USSR: The Perspective from Below, Boston, Allen & Unwin. Kryshtanovskaya, Olga (1991): 'A Closer Look at the KGB', Moscow News, no. 44, 4. L.A. Times (1991): 'From May to September: How the Poll Changed'. Los Angeles Times, World Report Section, September, H3. Lapidus, Gail (1989): 'State and Society: Toward the Emergence of Civil Society in the Soviet Union'. In Bialer, Seweryn (ed.), Politics, Society, and Nationality Inside Gorbachev's Russia, Boulder and London, Westview, pp Lewin, Moshe (1991): The Gorbachev Phenomenon: A Historical Interpretation, expanded ed., Berkeley, University of California Press. Nahaylo, Bohdan and Swoboda, Victor (1990): Soviet Disunion: A History of the Nationalities Problem in the USSR, New York, Free Press. Odom, William E. (1987): 'How Far Can Soviet Reform Go?', Problems of Communism (Washington, DC), 36, no. 3, Slider, Darrell, (ed.) (in press): Elections and Political Change in the Soviet Republics, Durham, NC, Duke University Press. Times Mirror (1991a): 'Russians Would Compel Ties with Slavic States', press release, Times Mirror Center for The People and The Press, September 16. Times Mirror (1991^): 'The Pulse of Europe: A Survey of Political and Social Values and Attitudes', final report, Times Mirror Center for The People and The Press.

17 318 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PUBLIC OPINION RESEARCH Tucker, Robert C. (1988): Political Culture and Leadership in the Soviet Union: From Lenin to Gorbachev, New York, W. W. Norton. Urban, Michael E. (1990): More Power to the Soviets: The Democratic Revolution in the USSR, Aldershot, Engl., Edward Elgar, and Brookfield, VT, Gower. USIA (1989): 'A New Kind of Soviet Elections: Lesson in Democracy', USIA Research Memorandum (M-4-26-), April 26. USIA (1990a): 'Soviet Citizens Are Pessimistic About the Economy, Mistrust the Communist Party, Favor Radical Change', USIA Research Memorandum (M ), October 10. USIA (1990^): 'Majority of Soviet Adults Disavow "Old" Communist System', USIA Research Memorandum (M ), December 14. USIA (1991a): 'Support for Democratic Rights Varies Widely Among the Soviet Nationalities', USIA Research Memorandum (M-9-91), February 4. USIA (1991^): 'Russians Favor Political Pluralism, Some Private Ownership', USIA Research Memorandum (M-67-91), May 3. USIA (1991c): 'Russian Public Divided Over Private Enterprise', USIA Research Memorandum (M-77-91), May 28. USIA (iggid): 'Yeltsin's Popular Appeal', USIA Research Memorandum (M-91-91), July 2. USIA (1991?): 'Soviet Coup Leaders Face Widespread Opposition', USIA Research Memorandum (M ), August 20. Vasilyev, Leonid (1991): 'Yeltsin and Gorbachev', New Times, no. 36, VTsIOM (1991): VTsIOM [AU-Union Center for the Study of Public Opinion], Obshchestvennoe mnenie Rossii v tsifrakh i kommentariiakh [Public opinion of Russia in figures and commentaries], Moscow. Zaslavskaya, Tatiana I. (1992): 'Public Opinion in the Last Months of the Soviet Union', The Public Perspective, 3, no. 2, THE USIA SURVEYS APPENDIX (1) Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,504 Soviet citizens (18 years of age and older) between July and August 5, 1990, in urban and rural areas of eight of the 15 Soviet republics: the RSFSR, Ukraine, Belorussia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenia, and Estonia. These republics contained 89 percent of the USSR's total population. (2) Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,989 Soviet citizens (18 years of age and older) in the Russian Federation (RSFSR) between February 15 and March 1, According to the 1989 Soviet census, Russians accounted for 82 percent of the RSFSR's population. The USIA Office of Research commissioned the Public Opinion Research Service VP (Vox Populi) to conduct both surveys. The survey questions were prepared by the USIA

18 PUBLIC OPINION AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOVIET UNION 319 Office of Research and were translated into Russian and other local languages by VP; the translations were then reviewed and approved by the Office of Research. Respondents were selected by means of multistage random sampling and were interviewed in their homes. Ninety-five times out of, the potential margin of sampling error for samples such as these is no more than three percentage points in either direction. The potential margin of sampling error is larger for smaller subgroups. For a group containing only respondents, for example, the potential margin of error is roughly plus or minus 15 percent. SCALES USED FOR THE ANALYSIS The measure of support for democratic rights (USSR survey, 8I go) is based on responses to four survey questions asking respondents whether they agree or disagree with the following statements: (1) people with any political views should have the right to publish their own newspapers, if they so desire; (2) the Soviet Union needs a multiparty system; (3) people should have the right to demonstrate in the streets in support of various is political causes; and (4) republics should be allowed to secede from the USSR, if the people of that republic choose to. The measure of confidence in the Soviet regime (USSR survey, 81 go) is based on responses to six questions that asked respondents how much confidence they had in the USSR Congress of People's Deputies, the USSR Presidency, the USSR Supreme Soviet, the KGB, the Soviet Army, and the CPSU. The measure of attitude toward Communist rule (RSFSR survey, 2/gi) is based on two survey questions. One asked respondents whether they had a great deal, a fair amount, not very much, or no confidence at all in the CPSU. The second asked about agreement with the statement, 'The CPSU is the only political force capable of governing the country in the decade ahead'. The measure of support for private enterprise (RSFSR survey, 2/91) is based on responses to five survey questions. One question asked respondents whether the country needs to dismantle the socialist economic system and move to an economy based primarily on private property, to improve the existing system and permit various forms of ownership including private property, or to strengthen the socialist economic system and forbid any private property. Other questions asked about agreement with the following statements: the government should support the further development of cooperatives; the government should allow peasants to buy and sell the land on which they work; the government should permit citizens to own small and medium-size businesses having no more than 200 employees; and the government should permit individuals to own large businesses employing 200 or more workers. The measure of support for political pluralism and democratic reform (RSFSR survey, 2I gi) is based on responses to four survey questions. Two questions asked about agreement with the following statements: citizens should have the right to publish newspapers with any political orientation; the country needs a real multiparty system. A third question asked whether the Baltic republics should be allowed to become

19 320 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PUBLIC OPINION RESEARCH independent states again, if their people want this, or whether they should be kept in the Soviet Union. The fourth question stated: 'Some people say that in this country, things are falling apart and that therefore we need a strong authority the so-called iron hand to re-establish order. Others say that the country needs more democracy and a reduction of power at the center. Which of these views is closer to your own?' Composite scores were calculated by summing the responses and dividing by the number of valid answers. Further details on construction of these indexes can be obtained from the authors. BIOGRAPHIC NOTE Richard B. Dobson is a social science analyst and Steven A. Grant is chief, Russia, Ukraine and Commonwealth Branch, Office of Research, U.S. Information Agency, Washington, DC.

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