Mass perception of “foreign agents”: November 2023

Two thirds of Russians know about the law “on foreign agents”. In three years, awareness of this law has increased one and a half times, although most of the respondents still do not have a clear idea about it. At the same time, against the background of the current military conflict over the past two years, the conviction has noticeably strengthened that the law “on foreign agents” is aimed at limiting the negative Western influence on our country. A third of the respondents say that adding a person, media or organization to the register of “foreign agents” will negatively affect the attitude towards them.

The majority of Russians (63%) are aware of the law “on foreign agents”; 17% of respondents are well aware of this law; 46% have heard something, but do not have a clear idea about it. In two years, the share of respondents who are aware of this law has increased by 21 percentage points. 36% of respondents have not heard anything about it.

One in two Russians believes that the meaning of the law “on foreign agents” is to limit the negative influence of the West on Russia, since 2022, against the background of conflict with Western countries, this proportion of respondents has increased by 16 percentage points.

Today, only a quarter of the respondents replied that the law “on foreign agents” is a way for the authorities to put pressure on independent public organizations. Two years ago, there were almost twice as many of them (45%).

At the same time, about a quarter of respondents still find it difficult to answer.

The majority of the rest believe that the meaning of the law “on foreign agents” is to limit the negative influence of the West on Russia, viewers (58%); representatives of older age groups (59% among respondents 55 years and older); those who believe that things in the country are going in the right direction (62%); those who approve of V. Putin as president of Russia (56%).

The opinion that this law is primarily a way of government pressure on independent public organizations is more widespread among young people (41% in the group of respondents under 24 years old); those who trust information from YouTube channels (41%); those who believe that the country is moving in the wrong direction ways (45%); those who disapprove of the president’s activities (53%).

Almost half of the respondents would not change their attitude towards a non-profit organization, a politician or the media if they found out that they were included in the register of foreign agents. A third of the respondents’ attitude would have changed for the worse, their share has increased over the past two years from 26% to 36%. Only 4% of respondents would have improved their attitude towards those who have received the status of a foreign agent, their share has remained stable for three years.

Respondents 55 years and older (45%) most often talk about changing their attitude in a negative direction; those who trust information from television (42%); believe that things are going in the right direction in the country (42%); supporters of the president (39%). Other socio-demographic groups mostly share a neutral attitude to the status of a foreign agent.


The all-Russian survey by the Levada Center was conducted November 23 – 29 2023, among a representative sample of all Russian urban and rural residents. The sample consisted of 1625 people aged 18 or older in 137 municipalities of 50 regions of the Russian Federation. The survey was conducted as a personal interview in respondents’ homes. The distribution of responses is given as a percentage of the total number of respondents.

The statistical error of these studies for a sample of 1600 people (with a probability of 0.95) does not exceed:

3.4% for indicators around 50%

2.9% for indicators around 25%/75%

2.0% for indicators around 10%/90%

1.5% for indicators around 5%/95%


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