More than 60 percent of Russians think it is impossible to get rich honestly in their country, according to a survey published Wednesday by the Levada Center, an independent pollster.
Fifteen percent of respondents said that it was possible to become wealthy honestly 15 to 20 years ago, but that times have changed, while a striking 49 percent said that it was impossible to line one's pockets legitimately either then or now.
A majority — 53 percent — also believe it "isn't right" that penalties for businessmen convicted of fraud are less severe than in other spheres.
When asked about their personal attitudes toward businessmen, however, respondents' answers were significantly more positive.
Seventy-five percent of respondents said they feel positively toward private business owners, with 81 percent reporting positive emotions toward small business owners and 78 percent saying the same of owners of mid-sized businesses.
Owners of large businesses are apparently less popular, with 57 percent of respondents saying they felt positively toward them and 33 percent saying they did not.
Small private business still represents a measly portion of Russia's overall economy, which is dominated by large state-owned enterprises. Only 20 percent of Russia's GDP comes from small business, while in developed Western economies that figure can rise as high as 70 percent.
The survey was conducted between Oct. 24 and 27 among 1,600 representative citizens, aged 18 years or older, in 134 towns and cities across Russia. The margin of error did not exceed 3.4 percent.