In May, Russians’ concern about Western sanctions against Russia decreased. The first shock of the sanctions has passed. Among the various restrictions, respondents are most concerned about the freezing of Russian assets abroad, although young people are more concerned about restrictions on Visa and Mastercard and the departure of Western brands. Respondents consider the price increase to be the main consequence of sanctions. At the same time, three-quarters of respondents believe that Russia should continue its policy despite the sanctions.
Most Russians have a negative attitude towards NATO. The prevailing opinion is that new countries joining NATO poses a threat to Russia. About half of the respondents admit that the conflict in Ukraine may escalate into a clash between Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance. A third of respondents admit that in the event of a conflict with the West, Vladimir Putin may give the order to use nuclear weapons first.
In March 2022, the Levada Center and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs research organization conducted a joint study of the public opinion of Russians and Americans about Russian-American relations and the most pressing topics on the international agenda. The study showed an increase in negative attitudes towards the United States among Russians, a decrease in willingness to cooperate – and at the same time increased fears associated with a possible conflict.
Compared to 2020, the willingness to participate in surveys has not changed at the moment. Respondents are still more willing to take part in a personal interview (rather than a phone survey). The level of confidence in the survey results remained at the same level: about half of the respondents (54%) trust the data.
Television, social networks and online media are the main sources of information. In the wake of the “special operation”, trust in television has grown, while trust in internet sources has sunk. The banned social networks keep losing users. There is no unambiguous opinion on blocking and restrictions on the Internet in the society: Russians are rather against it, while more than half of respondents aren’t against Internet censorship as such.
Attention to the “special military operation” is gradually beginning to dull. At the same time, the majority of respondents demonstrate concern about what is happening. Support for the actions of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine remains high, but compared to March it has slightly decreased. The majority of respondents hold NATO countries responsible for the destruction in Ukraine and the death of civilians.
The majority of respondents consider themselves to be Orthodox Christians, 15% do not consider themselves to be of any religion. More than half of Russians consider themselves religious. Respondents’ belief in the supernatural (life after death, religious miracles, the evil eye) remains a common phenomenon.
In March, there was a sharp deterioration in attitudes towards Western countries. An increase in negative assessments of the US and the EU has been recorded. The attitude towards Ukraine has hardly changed in March. Attitudes towards China have significantly improved.
68% of respondents access the Internet every day, the growth of users is observed in all age groups, except for respondents aged 18-24. Nevertheless, for most, television remains the main source of information. Over the past month, more than a quarter of respondents have faced the inability to access familiar digital services. About a quarter of all respondents use VPN services, in the group of 18-24 years – half.
Most Russians have somehow heard about street protests against the “special operation” in Ukraine. The youngest respondents and readers of Telegram channels and online publications are most aware of this. There is no clear understanding of the motives of the protesters in society.