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Western criticism of Moscow policies ruffles few feathers among ordinary Russians, poll shows

Western criticism of Moscow policies ruffles few feathers among ordinary Russians, poll shows

Most Russians currently think Western criticism of their country’s policies is simply an attempt to weaken Russia’s positions and that the authorities should not pay attention to it, recent research shows.

According to a poll conducted by the Levada independent public opinion research center in October, as many as 59 percent of Russians consider Western opinion of their country unimportant, while 30 percent hold that the authorities and the community should pay more heed to such criticism.

When asked about the reasons behind this opinion, 43 percent said Western nations simply wanted to weaken Russia in terms of international competition and any reports by them were biased by definition. Thirty-five percent answered that an unfriendly attitude to the Russian Federation in the West was traditional and 25 percent said that Western nations projected their own faults on Russia in bid to evade responsibility.

In addition, 74 percent of the public currently thinks that the main reason behind the Western sanctions is a desire to weaken and humiliate Russia. Twenty-one percent believes foreigners want to “lecture” Russia without really understanding it.

Thirteen percent maintains that the sanctions are an attempt to restore the geopolitical balance that shifted due to the Crimea’s accession into the Russian Federation in 2014. Only 5 percent believes the real objective behind the sanctions policy is an attempt to stop the armed conflict in the southeast of Ukraine, where pro-Kiev military is fighting with the militias of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Levada sociologist Karina Pipiya told Izvestia daily that the general anti-US and anti-Western inclination of the Russian public is caused mostly by the general understanding of the relations between Russia and the West as global competition. She added, however, that about half of respondents had admitted that a thaw in relations is still possible.

A similar poll conducted by Levada in December last year showed that the proportion of Russians with a negative attitude to the United States and the European Union was at 70 percent. In addition, 54 percent of respondents said Russia was right when it expected aggressive actions on the part of NATO.

Also in December, 65 percent of Russians said their country should continue implementing independent policies. Those who said Russia needs to find a compromise that would lead to the lifting of mutual sanctions comprised just 26 percent. Some 58 percent of those polled answered that they didn’t expect any improvement in Russia-West relations anytime soon, noting that their country should learn to live in new economic conditions.

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An overwhelming majority of Russians profess increasingly negative feelings about the USA, the EU and other Western nations, a poll shows. At the same time, 65 percent of respondents think Russia should stay its independent course regardless of sanctions.

The research conducted by the independent polling center Levada in late November shows the proportion of Russians with a negative attitude to the United States increased from 68 percent to 70 percent over the past two months. Negative attitudes to the European Union remained at 70 percent, while negativity towards Ukraine increased from 56 percent to 63 percent.

The results are still lower than the data from January this year when negative attitudes to Western nations reached all-time high. However, researchers register the change in tendency about two months back – now the number of people with negative sentiments about the West is growing again.

READ MORE: Anti-West sentiment in Russia hits all-time high

Some 54 percent of respondents said Russia was right when it expected aggressive actions on the part of the NATO bloc, while 36 percent said such approach was wrong. At the same time, 51 percent of Russians said NATO shouldn’t fear their country and 39 percent said such fear would be justified.

Levada researcher Karina Pipiya told Izvestia daily that the increasing negative attitude towards Western countries was caused primarily by the latest political actions of their leaders. She also noted that more Russians think that the relations with the West must be repaired. She said that this must be due to the fact that the poll took place after the downing of the Russian jet liner in Egypt and terrorist attacks in Paris – people understand better that Russia and the West have a common enemy.

Now 75 percent of Russians said that their country should do more to improve the relations with the West and 70 percent favor additional efforts to improve relations with Ukraine.

At the same time, most Russians (65 percent) said their country should continue implementing independent policies. Those who said Russia needs to find a compromise that would lead to the lifting of mutual sanctions comprised just 26 percent. Some 58 percent of those polled answered that they didn’t expect any improvement in Russia-West relations anytime soon, noting that their country should learn to live in new economic conditions.

READ MORE: Majority of Russians say US administration ‘extremely hostile toward us’ – poll

The latest research results released by the other major Russian polling agency – government-owned VTSIOM – are similar to those mentioned by Levada. In late August, VTSIOM said the perception of the US in Russia had drastically deteriorated and 59 percent of respondents think the current Washington administration is extremely hostile toward Russia and its people. In February VTSIOM stated that about 68 percent of Russian citizens thought the likelihood of foreign military aggression towards their country has increased. At the same time, 49 percent considered the state of Russian military ‘good’.

 
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