Most Russians believe that Russia would benefit from having neighborly and mutually beneficial relations with Ukraine on condition that the latter remains an independent country, as is seen from a public opinion poll conducted by the Levada Center public opinion service in 45 regions of the country in late October.
As many as 53% of those polled prefer friendship with an independent Ukraine, 33% would prefer Ukraine to be under Russia's economic and political control, and 15% were undecided, Levada Center told Interfax on Tuesday.
However, most Russians are at the same time not optimistic at all about how relations between Russia and Ukraine are developing, 51% of them being sure that these relations will remain the same in the foreseeable future, 11% expecting them to worsen, and only 24% believing that they will improve.
Asked about their attitudes toward Ukrainian political leaders, 50% said they did not care who is currently in power in Ukraine, 23% prefer incumbent President Viktor Yanukovych, and 10% former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Asked why they believe Yanukovych started Tymoshenko's judicial prosecution, 35% said the main goal is to get rid of a political rival, 17% believe that Tymoshenko's activities as prime minister caused significant damage to the country, and 22% presume that these steps are an attempt to sever a Ukrainian-Russian gas supply contract, which was concluded while Tymoshenko was prime minister and which obliges Ukraine to buy natural gas from Russia at quite a high price.
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