“Project”: VTsIOM and FOM publish the results of opinion polls “convenient” for the Kremlin, and YouTube was probably not blocked due to public opinion

The publication "Proekt" released an investigation about the Kremlin sociology. In particular, the publication writes that in 2018, when Putin's rating fell by 20%, FOM and VTsIOM began to receive instructions from the Kremlin to ask respondents questions that immediately indicated the correct answer. For example, in the VTsIOM poll before the Moscow City Duma elections in 2019, right in the text of the question, information was contained that the Electoral Committee had found invalid signatures from Gennady and Dmitry Gudkov, Ilya Yashin and Lyubov Sobol.

Also, according to the “Project”, sociologists have stopped asking respondents open questions, and some of the survey results are hidden. For example, in the first poll about the approval of the "special operation", it turned out that 55% of respondents aged 18-24 and 45% of respondents aged 25-34 were opposed to the war at that time. However, the media got information that 64% of Russians support the war.

In addition, the Project writes that it is simply forbidden to publish the results of opinion polls that are “bad” for the Kremlin. In the spring of 2022, the country's leadership discussed whether to block YouTube: officials decided to understand how citizens would react to this blocking. As a result, a survey was conducted on how often citizens use the service, whether they believe that an information war is being waged through it, how they feel about blocking the State Duma channel. The results, according to The Project, turned out to be “very complimentary for YouTube,” and they were not published. But, according to the source of the "Project", these results were sent to the country's leadership: as two interlocutors of the publication said, the issue of blocking hosting "is not worth it now."

According to Dmitry Rudenkin, a former VTsIOM employee, about a third of the results of opinion polls are not published.

Among other things, the investigation tells about the company "Insomar", which is also engaged in sociological research. According to the publication, in 2021 alone, Insomar received almost 580 million rubles from the authorities and structures associated with the Kremlin. The Insomar company is connected with the family of Yevgeny Mikhailenko, a sociologist who until November 2021 headed the department responsible for sociology in the Kremlin’s domestic political bloc. Yevgeny Mikhailenko told the Project that he divorced his wife in 2017 and has not been aware of Insomar's affairs since then. However, the publication writes that many data indicate that the divorce could be formal.

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