Press release №2166
16.04.2019
JULIAN ASSANGE: HERO OR CRIMINAL?

IN BRIEF

  • 45% of Russians think that Assange promotes freedom of speech and freedom of press
  • 27% oppose them saying that Assange breaks the law disclosing confidential materials

Most of Russians consider the WikiLeaks founder as a warrior for truth and an altruist.    

MOSCOW, April 16, 2019. Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) presents the data of a study describing how Russians assess what happened to Julian Assange.  

The awareness of Russians of who Julian Assange is is not high: 45% found out about him for the first time; 10% only know his name and do not know any details. At the same time, the information provided by those who gave substantive answers is mainly correct: 14% know that he is the WikiLeaks founder; 13% say that he published sensitive data about the U.S.; 12% know that he was arrested in London. The absolute majority of those Russians who know something about Assange are informed about his arrest on  April 11 (96%), including 46% of those who are well aware of what happened; 50% heard something about that but do not know any details.

According to 45% of Russians, by publishing sensitive data Assange promotes freedom of speech and freedom of press (53% of the 45-59-year-olds). In addition, 40% of respondents believe that Assange acted in the interest of the international community (48% of persons aged 60 and over). Fifty-seven percent of Russians believe that Assange probably wanted to open the eyes of the world community to corruption, crime, and scandals all over the globe.   

On the contrary, a quarter of Russians (27%) are confident that Assange broke the law; this share is higher among the young (37% of the 18-24-year-olds and the 25-34- year-olds, each). Besides that, 17% of respondents believe that the WikiLeaks founder acted in his personal interest (25% of the 18-24-year-olds); a further 16% consider that Assange published sensitive information in the interest of certain states and politicians (21% of 25-34-year-olds and the 35-44-year-olds, each). According to 17% of Russians, Assange was pursuing revenge and wanted to draw public attention to himself.

VCIOM-Sputnik survey was conducted on April 13, 2019. The survey involved 1,600 Russians aged 18 and over. The survey was telephone-based and was carried out using stratified dual-frame random sample based on a complete list of landline and mobile phone numbers operating in Russia. The data were weighted according to selection probability and social and demographic characteristics. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level does not exceed 2.5%. In addition to sampling error, minor changes in question wording and different circumstances arising during the fieldwork can introduce bias into the survey.

 

Do you know, did you hear or do you hear for the first time about Julian Assange? If yes, who is he, what is he known for? (open-ended question, up to 3 answers, % of total respondents; answers by at least 1% of respondents)
  Total respondents
This is the first time I hear about him 45
Head, founder of WikiLeaks 14
He published sensitive data about the U.S. 13
He was arrested in London; the trial will be held in the U.S. 12
I only heard his name, I know nothing about him   10
American Journalist 9
He has been hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy for 7 years 6
Hacker 1
Political leader 1
Former CIA agent 1
Warrior for truth 1
Australian journalist 1
Other 2
Don’t know 6

 

On April 11, Julian Assange was arrested by the British police in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he had lived for almost seven years. Do you know, did you hear, or do you hear for the first time about that?   (closed-ended question, one answer, % of those who know something about Assange)
  % of those who know something about Assange
I know well 46
I heard something but I do not know any details 50
I hear about it for the first time 4

 

Which opinion do you most agree with? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents))
  Total respondents Aged 18-24 Aged 25-34 Aged 35-44 Aged 45-59 Aged 60 and more
By publishing confidential information Assange aims to promote freedom of speech and freedom of press 45 35 35 41 53 50
Assange breaks the law by publishing confidential information 27 37 37 28 20 23
Don’t know 28 28 28 31 27 27

In your opinion, in whose interest did Assange publish confidential information?  (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  Total respondents Aged 18-24 Aged 25-34 Aged 35-44 Aged 45-59 Aged 60 and more
In the interest of the global community 40 34 33 32 45 48
In his personal interest 17 25 18 18 14 15
In the interest of certain states, politicians 16 17 21 21 15 10
Other   1 0 0 2 1 2
Don’t know 26 24 28 27 25 25
 
In your opinion, by publishing sensitive information, was Assange seeking revenge against enemies, did he want to draw attention to himself, or did he want to open the eyes of the world community to corruption, crime and scandals in different countries? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  Total respondents
He was likely to seek revenge against his enemies and draw attention to himself   17
He was likely to be eager to open the eyes  of the world community to corruption, crime and scandals in different countries 57
Don’t know 26

 

Note: Using materials from the site www.wciom.ru or wciom.com, as well as distributed by VCIOM, the reference to the source (or hyperlink for the electronic media) is obligatory!
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