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Russia's "Culture of Mistrust"

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Leonid Bershidsky argues that the recent meteor that exploded over Russia has revealed the country's "culture of mistrust." Shortly after the explosion, Bershidsky writes, Russians across the political spectrum began voicing conspiracy theories about the true nature of the blast. Some speculated it was an American weapon, others, a Russian. The widespread use of dashboard cameras that recorded the epic explosion are another testament to Russia's mistrust, he added. Russian citizens use these cameras because they cannot trust the police or other eyewitnesses during car accidents.

Bershidsky doesn't highlight why Russians may be particularly prone to distrusting their officials, but does offer some additional evidence about the lack of trust:

Why the trust deficit? Sociologist Lev Gudkov cited research showing that in 2008, only 27 percent of Russians agreed that people were generally to be trusted, while 68 percent were in favor of caution. In the U.S., 42 percent trusted their fellow citizens, and 57 percent believed them relatively untrustworthy.

Whatever the reason, it goes well beyond astronomical phenomena. Just today, Russia's central bank governor, Sergei Ignatiev, complained that $49 billion, or 2.5 percent of the country's economic output, had left the country illegally in 2012. Ignatiev speculated to a Russian newspaper that the money could have been used to pay for drugs, bribes or simply to avoid taxes.

(AP Photo)