Results of our studies

MOSCOW, September 11, 2008. Russian Center on Public Opinion Research (VCIOM) presents data on: view of Russians towards their country’s international position; whether they think the new “cold war” is possible; what is their attitude towards leading International Organizations (UN, NATO, EU, CIS, WTO, CES); how do they evaluate Dmitry Medvedev’s foreign policy; as well as what is their attitude to the US. 

How interested are Russians in the international political events? What is the extent of Russia’s influence in the world arena?

 Half of Russians (48%) do not pay particular attention to international politics. One out of every four are quite attentive about such events (26%), very attentive – only 8% of respondents. 16% claim they are not interested in international politics at all.  

Half of our compatriots state that the world was more safe and secure in 1960s-1980s (50%). One quarter (26%) tend to think there is more peace and security now. Last year one third of respondents gave this answer (34%). Only 5% (same as in 2007) state, that the international politics was more stable and secure during Boris Yeltsin times.  

More than half of Russians (58%) think that Russia has significant influence in the world affairs (44% point at “quite significant influence”, 14% - at “very big”). Every fifth respondent (18%) is of an opinion that Russia’s influence is not large, and only 3% consider our state not having any influence in the international politics. 

What is Russians’ judgment of Dmitry Medvedev’s foreign policy?

Dmitry Medvedev’s foreign policy is pretty balanced in relation with both West and East – such ist he opinion of 59% of Russians.Only 9% tend to think that the President started to demonstrate the politics that is too tough towards the Western countries. Contrary to this 7% assert that Medvedev is conducting “pro-Western” foreign policy course. The amount of respondents with such evaluations decreased almost twice  when compared with the similar survey of 2007 (from 16% to 7%). 25% of respondents were undecided with regards to this question.  

What is the affect of the conflict in South Caucasus towards Russia-West relations? Is the new “cold war” possible?

About one third of respondents (32%) think Russia’s position in the world will not change as whole in result of the conflict in South Ossetia. However 29% are sure that the things will get worse, every fourth (23%) said they will get better.

 43% of respondents consider the restart of the „cold war“ between Russia and the West being very unlikely. Probability of such international development scenario is marked by 40% (8% are confident, 32% - admit this as a whole). 13% were undecided. In comparison with data from 2007 the share of the people expressing both of this positions increased by 3% each. 

A bit less than half of respondents (48%) think that Russia has to focus on mutually beneficial relations with the West. One third (33%) sees the future of their country in getting rid of dependence on the West. Every fifth respondent was undecided.  

Russia and the USA

During the previous year the number of Russians noting the tendency of worsening of Russian-US relations, increased more than twice(from 17% in April of 2007 to 39% in September of 2008). Opposite to this, if a year ago there were 29% of Russians who thought that such relations rather improve, nowadays only 19% believe in this. Only every fourth  Russian (26%) tells Russia-US relations did not change as a whole (there were 33% of Russians giving such an answer).

Among the reasons why  RF-US relations deteriorate Russians tend to point at the conflict in South Ossetia and the war in Georgia that followed (25%). Besides this, every fifth person marked the affect of anti-Russian politics of the West (19%) and same number of people, that “the country is standing on its feet” again and is a competitor to the other stated (18%). 7% of Russians explain why the relations got worse by struggle for the global leadership. Equal shares got explanations: “Russian politics regarding gas and oil supply” and “conflicts with Ukraine, Georgia, Baltic states” (4% in both cases). Every fourth person (24%) was undecided.  

One third of Russians believing relations between RF and US are getting better explain their reply by the fact that economical and social ties between Russia and the West are getting wider (30% of respondents). Every fifth person (21%) marked “the growth of authority of Russia in the world community”. According to 14% - the improvement of RF-US relations is due to efforts of D.Medvedev,V.Putin and RF government as a whole. Other explanations: protection of own interests, dependency of the West from our country and its natural resources (7% and 6% respectively). 27% were undecided.  

Russia and International OrganizationsNATOWTOEUCISUNCES.

Russians are most positive about CIS, least – about NATO: 68% of respondents are positive about CIS (negative – 9%); 12% - about NATO (63% - negative). Organizations CES and EU are judged positively more often, than negatively (positive – 52% and 42% respectively; negative – 7% and 15% respectively). Number of positive replies in relation to WTO and UN are practically equal (37% and 38% respectively), there are less of those who are pessimistic about those organizations (18% and 29% respectively).  

The number of Russians, who think that their country should not rush with joining the WTO is close to the number of those, who believe this should be done as soon as possible (26% and 22% respectively). Two years ago, in March 2006 there were 30% of those in favor of Russia joining the WTO (which is 8% more, than the current figure). The number of undecided grew with the time (from 27% in 2006 till 37% in 2008). 

Only one out of three Russians is certain that WTO membership corresponds with their country’s interests (31% of respondents). This figure decreased in the previous three years (from 43% in 2005 to 31% in 2008). Every fifth respondent noted that this is contrary to the interests of Russia (24%). Half of participants of the study were undecided about this question (49%) – which is 15% more, than in 2006. Initiative Russian studies of VCIOM were conducted in July-September of 2008. Sample size: 1600 in 140 cities and villages from 42 regions, krais and republics of Russia. Maximum error level does not exceed 3,4%. 

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