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Poll shows sharp rise in number of Russians valuing freedom of speech

Vladimir Putin held a traditional meeting with judges of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation (Official Internet Resources of the President of Russia/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Independent Russian pollster Levada Center says that the number of Russians citing freedom of speech, freedom of faith, and freedom of public gatherings has risen sharply.

In a poll released on November 20, the agency said that in the last two years, the number of Russians who consider freedom of speech as one of the most important human rights has grown to 58 percent from 34 percent.

In the capital, Moscow, the number of such people doubled, while in smaller cities and towns it has increased by 1 1/2 times, the survey showed.

Overall, the number of Russian citizens who consider the right to a fair trial an important right increased to 64 percent from 50 percent, while the freedom of faith has risen to 40 percent from 22 percent since 2017.

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The freedom to gather in public was supported by 28 percent, while two years ago it was supported by only 13 percent of Russians.

The poll showed that 78 percent of the respondents consider the right to live among the most important human rights, while 70 percent of respondents believe that the right to medical care is.

The poll, which asked respondents to name the most important human rights and freedoms, was taken in late October in 50 Russian regions.

The poll was held a year after an unpopular law on raising the retirement age by five years was adopted and weeks after the arrest of activists for taking part in unsanctioned protests against the refusal by election officials to register independent and opposition candidates to September municipal elections in Moscow and other municipalities in the country.