A staggering amount of Russians hold negative views of the US

PutinReutersRussia’s then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attends the World Health Organisation meeting on healthy lifestyle in Moscow, April 28, 2011.

Anti-American sentiment in Russia is now stronger than it was in the late 1980s when the Soviet Union was still intact, The Washington Post reports.

An overwhelming majority of Russians — more than 80% — now view the US negatively, according to a poll from the independent Levada Center. This number has doubled over the past year, the Post notes.

The red line represents a negative attitude toward the US, and the blue line represents a positive attitude (the graph starts in 1990 and goes to 2105):

Hardly any Russians described relations between the US and Russia as “friendly,” “neighborly,” or even “calm”:

This anti-American sentiment could be partly attributed to relentless propaganda from the Kremlin, much of which comes from Russian TV stations and newspapers.

Russian-born Vitaliy Katsenelson, who moved to the US in 1991, consumed nothing but Russian news for a week and wrote about how the propaganda affected him:

It is hard not to develop a lot of self-doubt about your previously held views when you watch Russian TV for a week. But then you have to remind yourself that [President Vladimir] Putin’s Russia doesn’t have a free press. The free press that briefly existed after the Soviet Union collapsed is gone — Putin killed it. The government controls most TV channels, radio, and newspapers. What Russians see on TV, read in print, and listen to on the radio is direct propaganda from the Kremlin.

These Russian TV stations are the main source of news for more than 90% of the population, according to the Post.

Russian conspiracy theories that appear on state-backed media assert that the US is to blame for events like the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine. The Russians who buy into these theories then start believing that the US is trying to undermine Russia.

Putin fuels these flames with his nationalistic language. At his annual address in December, he implied that the US was aiming to disarm Russia and asked: “Do we want our bear to just become a stuffed animal?” He also blamed the collapse of Russia’s currency partly on sanctions from the West.

Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner told the Post that years of propaganda and perceived humiliations have “led to anti-Americanism at the grass-roots level, which did not exist before.”

While many Russians turned toward and admired the West after the fall of the Soviet Union, recent sanctions and a view that the US does not respect Russian priorities abroad have led to simmering resentment.

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