Staunton, September 16 – In response
to a poll organized by St. Petersburg’s Gorod-812 portal, 51 percent of
Russians said they favored Belarus being amalgamated with the Russian
Federation, 40 percent said they were opposed, saying that in their view, this
would not benefit Belarusians.
But among the roughly half of the sample of 1800 people, half of those who said they favored unification of the two countries said that they would support it only if Belarusians voted in favor of that step in a referendum (gorod-812.ru/51-proczent-oproshennyh-hoteli-by-obedineniya-rossii-s-belarusyu/).
Five percent of those who took part said they were indifferent as to whether Belarus would become part of Russia or not. “Let them enter or not enter,” these people said. “We don’t have any borders.”
Participation in this poll was self-selected by visitors to the Gorod-812 site, a portal that tends to cover developments from a more liberal perspective. Thus, the sample is not random or representative. But it is an indication that support for combining the two countries may be far less that Vladimir Putin or many others appear to think.
And it thus provides yet another reason to think that the Kremlin is likely to pursue what might be called “hybrid annexation,” the transformation of Belarus into a Russian-controlled satellite formally independent but run in all important ways by Moscow and its representatives in Minsk.
It is likely that a far larger share of Russians would support that than would back full amalgamation.