Staunton, April 12 – The divisions among Russians about Putin’s war in Ukraine have been strikingly stable from the beginning in large measure because they reflect long-standing divisions among Russians about the Putin regime rather than any openness to new information, Denis Volkov of the Levada Center says.
Supporters of the war, the less educated, the older and those who rely on television, have become even more supportive of Putin than they were, while opponents, the more educated, the younger and those who get their information from the Internet, have become if anything more fixed in their views, the sociologist says (ridl.io/rossijskoe-obshhestvennoe-mnenie-o-spetsoperatsii-v-ukraine/).
For the former in particular, Volkov continues, “news from Ukraine that fits their existing worldview is easily taken on faith. Anything that contradict that view is rejected as lies and hostile propaganda.” And the increasing blocking of independent media and ban on criticizing the military has not so much changed sentiments as reinforced already established views.
“Over the course of March,” he says, “public opinion consolidated with support for ‘the special operation’ increasing and the share of critics falling,” much as was the case in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea. “But current moods are different from what they were eight years ago.”
The boost in ratings for Putin and his regime has “not been accompanied by euphoria” as was the case in 2014. Then, most people expressed a sense of pride in the country, a sense of the triumph of justice and even joy. “Only three percent then spoke about anxiety and fear.” Now, a far higher percentage do.
“Only marginal groups now are experiencing any joy or inspiration from what is happening in Ukraine,” Volkov says.
Many assume that increasing fear has made Russians less willing to express their points of view, the sociologist notes in other comments. But he says that “our research doesn’t yet confirm that.” At the same time, no one should search in polls “for an answer to what people ‘really think.’” All polls can do is to record what people are willing to share.
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