NEWS4 June 2013

Wapor warns against Russian restrictions on research

Europe Government

RUSSIA — International research association Wapor has voiced concerns over Russian restrictions over public opinion research following warnings against the Levada Centre.

Last month, Russia’s only independent polling agency, the Levada Centre, was ordered by Russian prosecutors to register as a ‘foreign agent’ – a term synonymous with being a spy.

The prosecutors’ move was as a result of a new law designed to clamp down on NGOs that receive any funding from abroad and engage in political activity.

As a result, Levada Centre director Lev Gudkov (pictured) warned that it may be forced to close as “the warning puts the Yuri Levada Analytical Centre in an extremely difficult position, in effect forcing it to cease its activity as an independent sociological research organisation, carrying out systematic polls of public opinion in Russia”.

Wapor warned that it was legitimate for research centres to cooperate with research bodies in other countries, which did not turn an institute into a “foreign agent”.

It urged the Russian government to abstain from restrictions and to allow proper practice and dissemination of results about their citizens’ voices by independent research agencies.

It added: “As Wapor’s constitution states: Public opinion is a critical force in shaping and transforming society. Properly conducted and disseminated survey research provides the public with a tool to measure opinions and attitudes in order to allow its voices to be heard.”