Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Russian Supporters and Opponents of Ukraine War have Move in Common than Either Side Thinks, ‘Novaya Gazeta’ Study Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 11 – Journalists at Novaya gazeta.Yevropa analyzed more than 10,000 profiles on the VKontakte portal of supporters and opponents of Putin’s war in Ukraine in order to see whether there were fundamental differences between them that explained their differences on the war or whether they shared many things in common except their evaluation of the war.

            The journalists found that the average age of those who support the war was 45 while that of those who opposed it was 42. But that small difference was not replicated on other measures. Instead, the paper found that the two groups had much in common, so much so that demonizing one or the other serves only the regime (novayagazeta.eu/articles/2023/04/11/net-voine).

            Those who could be classified as liberals formed about half of all those who opposed the war, but 20 percent of the opponents were conservatives and 20 percent leftists, the paper continues. “And among the supporters, the basic group does not consist of convinced conservatives but people with a weak political identity, mostly ‘outside of politics.’”

“Stereotyping, demonization and dehumanization is a natural reaction of society to people who support SVO,” Novaya gazeta says. “But this only contributes to the polarization of society and does not benefit anyone except the Russian state machine, which benefits from people not even trying to talk to each other about politics.”

To be sure, those using Vkontakte share many values because they choose to use that media platform, and that may overstate how much the two groups have in common. But this piece of research does suggest that there is room for movement about the war especially if there are major changes at the top of the Russian power pyramid.

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