MOSCOW, January 21, 2009. Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) presents the data on what Russians think about the “gas crisis” in Russia-Ukraine relations: who takes the responsibility and what consequences it may cause.
The vast majority of Russians (90%) followed the course of the conflict on Russian gas supply to Ukraine that broke out on the eve of a new year – about a half (47%) kept a sharp eye on the conflict, 43% heard “something” about that. Only 9% exhibited no interest in the conflict. During the Russian-Ukrainian “gas crisis” of 2006 85% of respondents followed the developments and 14 % didn’t pay much attention to that.
Almost two thirds (63%) of Russians are confident that it is Ukraine that takes the main responsibility for the “gas crisis” (in 2006 50% thought so). The other 17 % of respondents consider that both parties are equally responsible, 5% put the blame on the Russian side (in 2006 every tenth thought so), another 5% blame the USA, and 1% blame European Union.
Russians tend to think that “stealing gas by Ukraine” and “Ukrainian debt” are the main reasons to stop transiting Russian gas (15% and 13% respectively). The varieties of answers to explain the situation are as follows: “the desire of Ukraine to reduce gas price”, “Ukrainian ambitions, Ukrainian foreign policy” (7% for each), “domestic politics, struggle for power in Ukraine (Yushchenko and Tymoshenko`s ambitions, strife in the power in Ukraine)” (6%). Those who consider the USA influence, unstable political and economic situation in Ukraine, gas transfer cessation to be the reasons for the conflict are 4% in each group; another 3% declare the absence of agreement between Russia and Ukraine, the violation of the previous agreement. Political resistance of Russia and Ukraine (2%) and the struggle for the benefits from selling gas (1%) are the rarest answers. Almost third of Russians (31%) were undecided to reveal the reason for stopping Russian gas transit to Europe.
The share of those who believe that the position of Russia corresponds to its national interest has increased by 5% compared with 2006 (from 73% to 78%): 40% believe that it “rather corresponds”, 38% - “fully corresponds”. Only 8% have right opposite opinion – 7% said “rather no”, 1% - “sure no”. 15% of respondents were undecided.
More than half of Russians (58%) are confident of the following thing: though the interim agreement is reached, the gas supply crisis would still go on – in 2006 the share of the respondents who thought so was 61%. Only 9% of respondents believe that the current agreement is a long-term and satisfies both parties (in 2006 21% of Russians believed so). The portion of those who were undecided to evaluate the results of the talks has increased: from 18% in 2006 to 33% in the current year.
If in 2006 every third (33%) considered Russia the winner upon the achieved agreement between Russia and Ukraine, than atthe present time more than forth (27%) of respondents are sure that both parties failed. 16% of respondents suppose that Russia benefited, the share of those who think that Ukraine benefited as well as those who think they both amounted to 13%. 31% of respondents were undecided.
39% of Russians are sure that the increase in gas prices results in changes in Ukrainian economy and citizens` wealth for the worse (in 2006 32% of respondents thought so). Every third (33%) believes that there would be some difficulties, but these difficulties would not cause any crucial consequences for Ukrainian economy (the portion of such respondents has declined from 48% comparing to 2006). Only 8% believe that Ukraine will profit from the situation. 20% were undecided.
Russians` opinion divide on the question of the influence of gas tariffs increase on Russian-Ukrainian relations: 39% believe that relations would remain as they are (32% thought so in 2006), the share of those who think that relations would worsen is the same (3 years ago 47% shared this opinion). Only 5% forecast the improvement in Russian-Ukrainian relations.
However, more than half of Russians (53%) believe that “gas crisis” would not have any big impact on the attitude of Ukrainians towards Russians – the share of such respondents has not changed since 2006. 27% believe that the attitude towards Russia may worsen and anti-Russian mood may strengthen - the same forecast was made three years ago by 31% of Russians. 5% believe that “gas crisis” may improve the neighbors` attitude towards Russia (the share of such respondents is the same compared with 2006). 17% were undecided.
More that a half of Russians (48%) believe that due to “gas crisis” the attitude towards Russia in European countries – Russian gas customers - remained to be the same. The share of those who believe that the attitude will be improved as well as those who believe that it will be worsened is equal (17%). 18% were undecided.
Half of Russians (50%) think that Russia should sell gas at market price to the other former USSR countries with no exception(the share of these respondents has decreased from 56% compared with 2006). Almost every forth (24%) has the opinion that favorable tariffs should be applied to friendly countries only, 12% - to the poorest countries. 14% were undecided.
The initiative Russian opinion poll was conducted on January 17 and 18, 2009. 1600 respondents were interviewed at 140 sampling points in 42 regions of Russia.The margin of error does not exceed 3.4%.