Monday, February 24, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Russians Overwhelmingly Oppose Moscow Intervention in Ukraine but Also Say There Won’t be a Maidan in Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 24 – More than seven out of ten Russians say that Moscow should not intervene in Ukraine, but at the same time, a slightly larger number say that events like those which have taken place in Ukraine are impossible in the Russian Federation, according to results of a new VTsIOM poll.

            Seventy-three percent of 1600 Russians surveyed in 130 population centers in 42 regions of Russia said that Moscow should not intervene in Ukraine. Only 15 percent said that Russia should support those who oppose the Maidan regime in Kyiv. Four percent said Moscow should support the Maidan, and nine percent did not answer (

            At the same time, 75 percent said that “similar mass actions were impossible in Russia,” with people outside the capitals somewhat more likely than those in Moscow and St. Petersburg to hold that view, 79 percent to 64 percent respectively.  Only 15 percent of those sampled said that an analogous situation could develop in Russia.

            Asked whether they would like to see such a development occur, 94 percent told the VTsIOM sociologists that they would not, while three percent said they would.

                While all Russian polling data should be treated with skepticism, this pattern of answers suggests three interesting conclusions: First, if Putin does use force in Ukraine, he will have much less popular support than many in Russia and the West appear to believe. Second, only a small share of Russians believes that a Maidan in Russia is possible.

And third, only an even smaller fraction of Russians would welcome such a development, a reflection of the fact that after the turmoil of the 1990s, Russians do not want any more and will likely support those like Putin who promise stability even at the expense of other values rather than those who are pushing for Russian democracy.

            But the interest in and support for stability among Russians clearly extends to foreign affairs as well, and consequently, despite efforts by some near the Kremlin to whip up backing for a move against Ukraine,  Russians on the whole aren’t buying it and could, if the Kremlin ignores them, turn against the regime.

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