21st Oct 2021

Russians more friendly toward EU than US

  • Russian president Vladimir Putin - wave of anti-Western propaganda began after invasion of Ukraine in 2014 (Photo:
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Almost half of Russians still have friendly feelings towards the West despite years of hostile propaganda, a new poll has shown in a snapshot of the EU's giant neighbour on the eve of elections there.

Some 44 percent of Russians told the Levada pollster that Russia should treat the West as an "ally", while 29 percent designated it as a "rival", the study, published on Wednesday (8 September), found.

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Pro-Western ideas had more traction among people aged 18 to 24, 55 percent of whom voiced approval. It was lowest among those aged 55 or over, just 33 percent of whom did so.

Sentiment was also warmer toward the EU, which 46 percent of people rated positively, compared to 39 percent for the US.

The pro-Western feeling was slightly higher than in January, but had dipped to lower levels in May, before recovering to present figures.

Meanwhile, 57 percent of Russians acknowledged that their country was "isolated" on the world stage due to Western sanctions, while 38 percent felt it was not.

And the pro-Western sympathies still stood at lower levels than those who approved of China (70 percent) or those of Belarus (82 percent), even though Belarus had disgraced itself by brutalising opposition members over the past year.

The snapshot of the Russian mood came shortly ahead of parliamentary elections on 17 September.

Levada, which has been stigmatised as a "foreign agent" under Russian law, also said, in a separate poll, that 48 percent of Russians felt their country was on the right path, while 44 percent felt the opposite, in numbers which stayed stable in recent months.

Russian president Vladimir Putin's personal approval rating dipped to 61 percent in August from 67 percent in May, however.

Despite this, fewer Russians expected the country to see large-scale protests for either economic or political reasons - 26 to 27 percent in August, compared to 43 to 45 percent in January.

But at the same time, more people voiced readiness to take part, indicating a split in Russian society.

Some 19 percent said in August they would take part in political rallies and 24 percent in protests over the economy, compared to 15 percent and 17 percent, respectively, in May.

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