Most Russians Consider Themselves “Free”

76% of them, to be precise (Levada polling). This is not surprising to close observers of Russian society but even apparently obvious things need to be repeated now and again.

But what is more remarkable is that this figure has almost never been higher, especially compared to the glorious 1990s that Russian liberals love to praise so much. Here is the net percentage of Russians saying they feel themselves to be a “free person in our society” over the past 25 years ago.


Is this a function of the all-encompassing power of pro-Putin TV?

In actual fact, Russia has long since become an Internet society – penetration is now around 70%, which is no different from almost all of the rest of Southern and East-Central Europe. And the Russian Internet is, rhetoric aside, almost entirely unregulated. If you want access to the most unapologetically anti-Putin and pro-Western news source, any number of them are a mouseclick away.

So it must be doubly crushing to people who imagine Russians living in fear under the shadow of their ruthless authoritarian regime to learn that there is essentially no difference in responses to this question between people who get their news from TV versus the Internet.


This is the context in which Khodorkovsky’s renewed energetic agitation for the “inevitability” of a Russian revolution must be viewed.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Interesting… Has anyone polled the American public with a similar question recently? Perhaps the result might be lower…

  2. Khodorkovsky deserves to be hit with an ice axe.

  3. Peter Frost has expressed concern that some of what he says in his blog posts here could get him in trouble with the Canadian authorities. I wonder if he would have any such concern if he lived in Russia? Do you know whether the Russian authorities punish people who express unorthodox views on the internet?

  4. The problem is that such a poll is relative to the direction things are moving in. A good number of Americans (maybe me included) would say they don’t feel free based on how things were just 20 years ago. At work I am hyper-cautious to use 100% PC and innocuous language and I can’t help but think that this must be how people in Communist countries talked, which I used to read about years ago and could never relate to.

  5. The mayor camped outside Khodorkovsky’s head office for a month to shame him into paying taxes before being shot dead. A rival who sued Khodorkovsky for 100 million dollars had his car blown up and chauffeur killed in a assassination attempt. A woman who refused to sell Khodorkovsky’s company a building was murdered. Last but not least a couple who used to work for him were kidnapped from their house and have never been heard of again.

  6. Drapetomaniac says

    One man’s freedom is another’s slavery.

    Everyone is free to do what their government allows them to do. Talking about being free is BS.

  7. The most deplorable one says

    Somewhat OT, but lots of people point to the claimed use of women in combat roles by the USSR during WWII.

    An interesting question is: Does Russia allow women in combat roles in any of its services?

  8. And yet the Kremlin released him in order to pander to the West.

  9. Do you prefer to see your freedom restricted by cooperation and NGOs?

  10. Drapetomaniac says

    Why do you think it needs to be restricted by anything but voluntary interaction?

  11. I’ve never heard of such a poll, although it ought to be something of a no-brainer for Libertarians and libertarian factions within the major parties to actually gauge the public’s sense of freedom.

    If I were really forced to answer “yes” or “no”, I’d probably uneasily say “no”. Why? Because I’d once thought semi-seriously of emigrating from the States, and because I’ve gained enough knowledge to know how anaesthetized (or infantilized) popular and elite opinion leaders are with respect to some aspects of public policy. I don’t know if “trapped by stupid” counts as unfree, but it sure feels like it.

  12. I mean, this was a country where you could get ‘rape’ for saying women are not the same in capability as men (at guy stuff!)

    & this was with a conservative gov!

    I’ve not been there since last year, have started building a life in my Punjab..

    What does that say? Indian villages where the only thing to do is farm with small tractors & the expressway speed limit is 90 Vs 120

    Are preferable to Toronto..

    Why? Because I don’t want my daughter a whore & my son a fag. Both need to produce soldiers,

  13. @mitleser Freedom is directly related to how much the state supports your ethnic kin.

    I know you thought freedom as an ‘ideal’ existed while the Danavas (Russians) & Hindus (Sikhs) were absorbing all the mongol-turkic-islamic invasions for 1500 years; but, you said we don’t give them ‘human rights’ .

    So, have fun with your zoo animals paid for with our blood.

    You say but what did I have to do with it?

    Well, as you load up your Russian gun you can think of rationalizations for survivalism.

    Hopefully had foresight to purchase & which is only one that will work in adverse conditions.

    Russians like Anatoly probably believe they are doing ‘christian’ thing by standing Vs injustice.

    LOL pozzed christian world is unjust, in a generation when you realize you’re related to me. I’ll sell you Desi s900

    Strange the Russian uses fire to represent Russia? Why do Persians still light oil lamps (deeva) in their homes?

    Could it be the desert dwellers don’t like fire?

    Gee, I wonder who worships fire…..