Successful Syria operation boosts Russians’ interest in politics, researchers claim

© Vitaliy Ankov
Sociologists have registered record growth in the Russian citizens’ interest to politics and researchers tie this fact to Russia’s recent successes on the international arena, especially its anti-ISIS operation in Syria.

According to the latest research conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), 48 percent of Russians say they are interested in politics, which is the highest figure since 2001. Forty-nine percent of responders said that politics was not at the top of their interests’ list, and 3 percent said it was difficult to give a direct and simple answer to this question. For comparison, in 2010 the share of Russians who said that they considered politics to be an important subject was 30 percent and 64 percent said that they had no interest in politics whatsoever.

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The 2016 research also shows that the current events in Syria and Russia’s counter-terrorist operation in this country were the most popular discussion topics among Russians. The situation in Ukraine ranked second, the ongoing price hikes in Russia were in third place and the last Q&A session with President Vladimir Putin was in fourth place.

In the same poll, 63 percent of responders said they were interested in international politics and the same share of Russians said that in their view over the past few years their country claimed more victories than it suffered defeats on the international arena. Fifty-three percent of Russians hold that the government is paying sufficient attention to foreign politics and 27 percent said that the attention to this sphere was excessive.

Political scientist Abbas Galyamov said in comments with Kommersant Daily newspaper that though the absolute numbers of politically conscious Russians were large, the dynamics could be negative in the nearest future as certain focus groups have been already showing irritation over the fact that the authorities pay a lot of attention to Syria and Ukraine and not so much to Russia’s internal problems.

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According to the results of the poll conducted by the independent agency Levada Center in July last year, 70 percent of Russians had negative sentiments about the United States with only 19 percent of responders confessing positive attitude towards the US. Sixty percent of Russians claimed to dislike Ukraine and 62 percent said they disliked the European Union.