It’s no secret that Russian-American relations have severely cooled over the last year.
In fact, an opinion poll led by Moscow-based Levada Center revealed that over 80% of Russians have a negative view of the United States, almost double what it was like a year ago, the Washington Post reports.
The attitudes of Russians toward Americans are at their worst since the dissolution of the USSR. The poll also suggests that Russians have similar attitudes toward Europeans.
Anti-Americanism is a recent trend in Russia. Back in 2011, then-prime minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States — and more specifically, Hillary Clinton — of instigating the protests in Moscow. (This followed the attempted “reset” in US-Russia relations back in 2009.)
More recently, the on going crisis in Ukraine has flared up some negative feelings towards the US and Europe — especially after the Kremlin-favourite Viktor Yanukoych fled in February 2014 and was replaced by post-Western oligarch Petro Poroshenko later in May.
Washington “would like it if Russia did not exist as a state at all,” the head of Russia’s Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev told a Russian government newspaper last week, according to the Washington Times.
American feelings towards Russia aren’t any better. A Gallup poll conducted this year found that 70% of Americans viewed Russia unfavorably, an all-time high since the end of the Cold War.
Putin’s opposition say the President is encouraging the anti-US trend in an attempt to maintain his popularity as the economic situation worsens, which is at least partly due to the Western sanctions implemented in response to the conflict in Ukraine
Dmitry Gudkov, an opposition lawmaker in Russia’s parliament, told the Washington Post that the Kremlin was trying to distract Russians from the internal problems in the country by creating an “external enemy”.
Gudkov also said he doubted that anti-American attitudes were as high as polls suggested.
“There can be no such thing as sociology in an authoritarian society,” he told the Washington Post. “People are afraid and simply give the answers expected of them.”
Importantly, the current climate in Russia also does not encourage people with positive attitudes toward the US to widely share their opinions.
Alexei, a Moscow-based businessman told the Washington Post that he avoids speaking about politics with his friends and acquaintances.
“Many of them have just been brainwashed into thinking that American officials spend all day dreaming up ways to harm Russia,” he said. “It’s simpler — and a lot safer — not to discuss such things with them.”
Yevgeny Fyodorov, a lawmaker from Putin’s party and head of an ultranationalist group, went as far as saying that the US States had agents even inside the Russian government who were trying to bring Russia down from the inside.
“The United States wants to kill me and hang my child,” he told the Washington Post.
To check out the whole report, head over to the Washington Times.
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