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Quarter Of Russian Say Would Join Protests

Russian protests against unemployment, rising prices, and falling living standards in February.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Nearly a quarter of Russians say they would consider joining protests against falling living standards, Russian pollsters have reported.

Although there have been a handful of protests this year, Russians have been slower to demonstrate against their government on the impact of the global economic crisis than people in other countries.

The Levada independent polling center asked 1,600 Russians, if they would participate in mass protests against a decline in living standards. Twenty-three percent said they would and 61 percent said they would not.

The poll found older people in the 40-54 age group more willing to protest than younger people aged between 19-39. It was carried out on February 20-23 at 128 centers across the country and has a 3.4 percent margin of error.

The Russian ruble has devalued by more than a third against the dollar and the euro in the past six months, pushing up prices for imported goods.

The unemployment rate has reached 8.1 percent and is expected to rise further while the economy is set to contract by at least 2 percent this year.

Just 9 percent of respondents said they would consider participating in pro-government rallies.

There was also strong support for people who do participate in protests against the decline in living standards, with 60 percent answering that they regard such protesters with respect (19 percent) or with understanding (41 percent).

Many industrial cities across Russia are dependant on single large factories, which are laying off workers, with few alternative jobs on offer nearby.