Pew Research recently did some digging around in Russia to find out how Russians view their own country and their place in the world at large. In April, Pew performed face-to-face interviews with some 1,000 Russian adults of varying gender, age, and location. Here is what they found out:
Russians don’t feel great about their economy
According to Pew, 73% of Russians say the economy is in bad shape while 24% say it is in good shape.
Over the past year the price of oil has fallen drastically, prompting Putin to say last October that “the global economy would suffer” if oil prices remained so low.
Many Russians believe Western powers are to blame for the bad economy
Of the 73% who believed the economy was in bad shape, Pew found that one-third point to sanctions imposed by Western nations as the root cause. The EU sanctions imposed last September target Russia’s finance, energy, and arms sector.
Another one-third of respondents believe the sanctions are due to falling oil prices, and about one-quarter blame current government policies, Pew found.
Russians love Putin
The Russian people support Putin on nearly all of his foreign and domestic policies. In particular, at least eight in ten Russians agree with how Putin handles relations with Ukraine, China, America, and the EU. Domestically, upward of 60% of Russians support Putin’s initiatives to root out corruption, fix the economy, and his energy policy.
Pew notes that Putin’s foreign policy approval ratings are the highest documented since the organisation began surveying Russians in 2003. However, his approval ratings for how he has dealt with Ukraine have declined over the last year.
Russians do not like the US
Pew found that 15% of Russians view the US favourably, compared to 81% who view the US unfavorably.
They don’t like NATO, the EU, or Germany much either
Only 12% of Russians like NATO and only 31% like the EU. Views towards Germany are at an all-time low at 35% approval. Pew notes that since 2011, opinions of the US, Germany, NATO, and the EU have all fallen drastically.
Russians also want to keep Ukraine out of NATO and the EU
Only 3% of Russians want Ukraine to join NATO, and only 14% want it to join the EU.
Russians have little faith in Barack Obama and Angela Merkel
Only 11% of Russians have faith in Barack Obama to “do the right thing regarding world affairs,” according to Pew. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has the faith of 28% of Russians. Pew adds that in 2012, 48% of Russians had confidence in Merkel and 28% had confidence in Obama.
Russians miss the Soviet Union
Pew’s research showed that 69% of Russians say the breakup of the Soviet Union was a bad thing for Russia, while 17% say it was a good thing. Specifically, 85% of older Russians (50 and up) who grew up in the USSR say the breakup was a bad thing. Only 44% of younger Russians concur, and 27% of them have no opinion.
Russians do not believe Russia is big enough
According to Pew, 61% of Russians agree with the statement “there are parts of neighbouring countries that really belong to us.” In contrast, 29% disagreed. Pew notes that this feeling has been growing since the fall of the Soviet Union.
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