Most Russians feel threat from external enemies, poll shows

Most Russians feel threat from external enemies, poll shows
Over two-thirds of Russians are sure that their country has enemies and over half the population think that these enemies pose a real threat, according to a recent poll conducted by independent research group the Levada Center.

When the Levada Center – the leading Russian independent company specializing in public opinion research – asked the public if it thought that Russia has enemies, 68 percent answered positively, with only 18 percent saying that in their opinion this statement was false. Just over half – 52 percent – of respondents said that the nation had both external and internal enemies, and estimated the threat coming from these enemies as real.

At the same time, 29 percent of those surveyed told researchers that they believe the image of external and internal enemies was just a “propaganda tool,” deliberately exaggerated in order to manipulate public sentiment.

The head of the Levada Center’s department for social and political studies, Natalya Zorkaya, said in comments with Kommersant daily that the idea of external and internal enemies was popular among Russians. She noted that the use of this idea in the media had been on the increase since 2014, and said that currently Russians tended to associate enemies with the “external world.”

A different poll conducted by the Levada Center in late November showed that the proportion of Russians who favor warmer and closer relations with the West was at 71 percent – very close to the all-time maximum of 76 percent registered in March 2000.

When researchers looked at Russians’ attitudes to various foreign nations, 70 percent of respondents said that they disliked the US the most, 62 percent named the European Union, and 63 percent expressed negative feelings toward Ukraine.

In August 2015, the VTSIOM state-run research center studied the perception of the US in Russia and found that it had drastically deteriorated, with 59 percent of respondents believing that the current Washington administration is extremely hostile toward Russia and its people.

Also, on Tuesday this week, VTSIOM released the results of a recent poll showing that 92 percent of Russians were confident that the country’s military was capable of repelling any foreign aggression. Just 5 percent had doubts over the efficiency of national defense systems.