On 1 February, sociologists from the Levada-Center presented two surveys “The Power Component in the Political Consciousness of Russians” and “Estonia and Estonian Society in the Eyes of Russians 2018-2021” (1600 Russia’s citizens participated in the poll) at the ICDS.
After the presentation, the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute (EFPI) at the ICDS hosted a roundtable discussion about public opinion in Russia in this current period of domestic discontent and international turbulence.
Some key points from the discussion with Lev Gudkov, research director of the Levada-Center and Alexey Levinson, sociologist and senior researcher at the Levada-Center:
- 49% of Russian citizens prefer the Soviet political system, but paradoxically they would not like to live under the Soviet regime. 18% appreciate the current political system, while 16% favour the Western type of democratic governance. Most citizens prefer an economic system based on state planning and distribution, while market-based economy has lower support.
- Amid heightened tensions between Russia and Ukraine in March 2021, the biggest concerns of citizens were illness of family members, the potential of world war and returning repressions.
- Even though Putin’s popularity rating steadily decreased during 2017-2021, he remains the most popular politician.
- Belarus and Kazakhstan are considered as the closest friends and allies by most citizens. However, public attitude might have changed after the major protests that took place in both countries recently.
- Majority of Russian citizens have never visited Estonia. The visiting rate was higher before 1991. At the same time, positive attitude as well as interest towards Estonia has been increasing during the last years.
- Relations between Estonia and Russia are broadly estimated as normal, while around 19% think that there are tensions. People’s knowledge about Estonia is mainly based on information from Russian TV channels, followed by schools, internet and social channels. General knowledge about Estonia is higher among the citizens of Russian regions neighbouring Estonia.
- There is limited awareness in Russia of the fact that Estonia was an independent republic between WWI and WWII. However, most respondents considered that Estonia’s economy is one of the most developed in the post-Soviet space.