Applying traditional notions of the concept ‘political cleavage’ to Russian society is premature. Judicious analysis of public opinion data demonstrates that, despite any statistically significant differences of opinion that may exist, major Russian social groups have substantively similar attitudes toward economic reform. As economic issues are likely to dominate political life in Russia for the foreseeable future, the homogeneity of opinion on those issues minimizes the potential for socially based political cleavages. This social environment weakens the rationale for adherence to democratic institutions, which are essentially a means for peaceful mediation of societal conflicts.

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