Confidence in Democracy and Capitalism Wanes in Former Soviet Union

Two decades after the Soviet Union's collapse, Russians, Ukrainians, and Lithuanians are unhappy with the direction of their countries and disillusioned with the state of their politics. Enthusiasm for democracy and capitalism has waned considerably over the past 20 years, and most believe the changes that have taken place since 1991 have had a negative impact on public morality, law and order, and standards of living.

There is a widespread perception that political and business elites have enjoyed the spoils of the last two decades, while average citizens have been left behind. Still, people in these three former Soviet republics have not turned their backs on democratic values; indeed, they embrace key features of democracy, such as a fair judiciary and free media. However, they do not believe their countries have fully developed these institutions.

In contrast to today's grim mood, optimism was relatively high in the spring of 1991, when the Times Mirror Center surveyed Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania. At that time all three were still part of the decaying USSR (which formally dissolved on December 25, 1991).1 Then, solid majorities in all three republics approved of moving to a multiparty democracy. Now, just 35% of Ukrainians and only about half in Russia and Lithuania approve of the switch to a multiparty system.

Read the full report, Confidence in Democracy and Capitalism Wanes in Former Soviet Union, on the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project Web site.