Vast Majority of Russians Think Foreign Media Criticize Putin to Weaken Russia – The Moscow Times

The Moscow Times

Oct. 29 2014

By Allison Quinn

The overwhelming majority of Russians view negative foreign media coverage of President Vladimir Putin and of Russia in general as an attempt to destabilize the country, pollster VTsIOM revealed Wednesday.

The poll revealed that 87 percent of respondents see such ulterior motives in critical remarks released by foreign media outlets. A mere 4 percent of respondents said such criticism was intended to improve the country’s situation.

Of the 1,600 people polled, 82 percent said those who condemn Putin’s policies want to see the Russian government’s collapse.

Similarly, 87 percent of respondents said they considered such criticism of Putin to be baseless, while the same number said such comments were a result of the Russian president following policies independently of the rest of the international community.

The role of foreign media has been thrust into the spotlight in recent months amid the ongoing Ukraine crisis, a conflict that analysts say has relied more heavily on information warfare than previous conflicts.

Western media outlets have repeatedly accused their Russian counterparts of unethical, inaccurate reporting, and at times flat-out propaganda. Russia has hit back and accused foreign journalists of the same.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents to the VTsIOM poll agreed with the official line on foreign media, describing it as biased in reporting on the actions of the Russian government, while 20 percent said the reporting was objective.

At the same time, however, more Russians were found to rely on foreign media today than was the case five years ago, with 37 percent stating that they turn to foreign media now compared with 29 percent in 2009.

The poll was conducted from Oct. 25-26 in 132 cities and 45 regions of Russia. It had a margin of error no higher than 3.5 percent, the pollster said.

More Russians Favor Soviet Than Western Form of Democracy, Poll Shows

The Moscow Times

Oct. 29 2014

The majority of Russians believe their country needs a form of “democracy” that is substantially different from that practiced in the West, a recent poll shows.

Asked what form of democracy would suit Russia, if at all, only 13 percent of respondents said that a Western-style democracy could work for their country, and only 5 percent saw it as a necessity for Russia’s development, according to a survey by independent Levada Center pollster released Tuesday.

A more popular choice was the form of “democracy” practiced in the Soviet Union, which was favored as the best option for Russia by 16 percent of respondents.

Questioned specifically on whether Western-style democracies were an option for Russia, 45 percent of respondents said it would be “destructive” for the country, while another 39 percent found it an acceptable option but only in case of “substantial changes related to our country’s specifics,” the poll indicates.

The majority of respondents, 55 percent, said that the only form of democracy that could work for Russia was one that was “completely unique, corresponding to national traditions and Russia’s specifics,” according to the Levada Center report.

The notion of “osoby put,” or special path, has historically enjoyed much support in Russia. According to that concept, Russia has its own, unique path of development, distinct from Western or Eastern trajectories.

Asked to what extent they saw themselves as belonging to a Western civilization, a large majority of respondents, 43 percent, said they did not identify with the West at all. Only 14 percent said Western culture played a role in their lives.

The poll did not specify whether Russia’s “specific” democracy should include fair elections, free speech, independent courts or the freedom to assemble without permission from the authorities — all aspects that have come under stress under the nearly 15-year reign of President Vladimir Putin’s administration.

The poll was conducted on Sept. 25-29 among 1,630 people in 46 regions of Russia. The margin of error was no more than 3.4 percentage points.

 

 

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