Until recently, public opinion surveys or governmental programmes did not explicitly create a link between cultural policy and social cohesion, which remained an issue mainly of research. However, there are “hot spots” that could be influenced by targeted cultural policies, e.g. splashes in negative attitudes to ethnic migration from the former Soviet Republics, North Caucasus, etc. In 2009, the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation proposed to foster inter-ministerial activities to support social cohesion and to elaborate special cultural policy measures supporting tolerance, expanding inter-ethnic communication, and challenging xenophobia.
Surveys of a general nature have revealed a decrease in feelings of trust and a devaluation of co-operation, reciprocity principles and mutual respect in modern Russia. Comparative VCIOM (see chapter 9.1) research into interpersonal trust (2005) discovered that it is lower in Russia than in the EU (45% compared to 54% of those who always or often trust people, and 23% compared to 11% of those who almost never trust). The wider public does not place full reliance on rich people, especially if they are given strong positions in cultural matters. A sociological survey that followed the culture Minister’s proposal to involve maecenats in museum management (2008) revealed that 42% of respondents are wary of the possibility of plundering public property (see http://old.wciom.ru/arkhiv/tematicheskii-arkhiv/item/single/10414.html).
Almost all current surveys demonstrate a belief in the direct correlation between high culture and social ethics and show aspirations to state support and promotion of cultural institutions and values as a means to strengthen moral values. These results can be understood as a symptom of the general social need for active support for moral values and practical cultural programmes facilitating social cohesion, particularly in view of strained inter-ethnic relations.
Establishing relations of tolerance became the objective of many regional programmes including the Tolerance Programme implemented in St. Petersburg. This programme aimed at harmonisation of inter-cultural, inter-ethnic, and inter-religious relations for the period of 2011-2015 was developed as a follow-up to the earlier “Tolerance” programme and targeted to build up and strengthen a tolerant environment in St. Petersburg based on the values of a multi-ethnic Russian society, all-Russian civil identity, and a St. Petersburg social and cultural self-identification (see: http://eng.spbtolerance.ru/). It also presupposes support for successful social integration and cultural-linguistic adaptation of migrants. Its goals are to be achieved by:
- building a culture of tolerance through the system of education;
- interreligious communication and assistance to intercultural communication;
- promotion of tolerance values in the media community of St. Petersburg; and
- establishing an “intolerant” attitude to xenophobic and racist ideas among the youth.