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Poll: Russians like Ukrainians half as much as the other way round

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Nov. 6, 2009, 4:17 p.m. | Ukraine — by Iryna Prymachyk

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The Russians likes their Ukrainian neighbors only half as much as the Ukrainians like the Russians, a recent poll showed. Parallel polls conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in October in partnership with Moscow’based Levada showed 96 percent of Ukrainians have a “good or very good” attitude to Russians, while only 46 percent of Russians return the warm feelings. Almost as many Russians – 44 percent view Ukraine in a negative light.

Experts say the results are not surprising, and predict that the current tendency for improvement of the Russian’s attitude to Ukraine will continue.

“If anti-Ukrainian propaganda in Russian media does not get worse, improvement will continue in the Russian view of Ukraine. In turn, Russia will not be making punches against Ukraine before the elections not to make mistake it had made in 2004, when Putin [then Russian president] openly supported Viktor Yanukovych,” said Aleksey Grazhdankin, deputy director of Levada Center. “It is unfavorable for Russia to worsen relations with the country before a new president is elected.”

The anti-Ukrainian sentiment in Russia worsened significantly after the war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008 when the Russian media accused Ukraine of supplying arms to the Caucasus, and the Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko openly supported his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Saakashvili. That time Levada poll showed that 53 percent of Russians viewed Ukraine in a bad light.

The new polls released on Nov. 5 showed that Russians’ attitude towards Ukraine has improved by 12 percent since May.

However, both sides feel that the bilateral relationship needs improvement. About 67 percent of Ukrainians think the relationship should be a friendship between “two independent states”, while only 55 percent of those polled in Russia share the concept.

The KIIS poll was conducted among a representative sample of 1997 Ukrainians, while the Levala Center polled 1600 Russians. The margin of error is 3.3 and 3.4 percent, respectively.
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