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Russia

A Clever Survey Reveals How Russians Really See Themselves

A new survey asking Russians how they think people abroad view them and their country is overly optimistic, revealing a "warped" sense of reality.

Coming into focus?
Coming into focus?
Sergei Goryashko

MOSCOW — A recent survey by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center that sought to measure how Russian citizens think people outside of their country view Russia has revealed what we can only call a "warped" view of reality.

Respondents were asked to rate different ideas on a scale of 1 (don't agree at all) to 5 (completely agree) about how Russia is viewed from outside. Here were the results:

People think Russia is an "interesting" country: 4.04 points

Russia is a country with "a strong government:" 3.92 points

Russia is "independent:" 3.79 points

Russia is "kind-hearted:" 3.81 points

Russia is "hospitable:" 3.74 points

Russia is "rich:" 3.71 points.

Russia is "tolerant:" 3.49 points

Russia is "friendly:" 3.7 points

Respondents were much less likely to say that the rest of the world has negative feelings about Russia and Russians.

Russia is "authoritarian:" 2.96 points

Russia is "stubborn:" 2.83 points

Russia is "wasteful:" 2.78 points

According to Olega Kamenchuk, head of communications for the research center, the survey was enlightening in terms of how Russians see themselves.

"This is the image that these citizens want to see," Kamenchuk says. "They think that people in Russia are interesting and warm-hearted, and they don't want to agree that people abroad see us as stubborn and angry."

She thinks that having a strong government and being independent are "one of the most important factors," and they want Russia to be perceived that way, which is why they so often said that foreigners think of Russia as strong and independent. In addition, Kamenchuk notes that few Russians travel abroad, so the majority don't know how the world really sees their home country.

"It's like people are looking in a warped mirror and seeing themselves in a way that doesn't reflect what they are really like," says Leontii Byizov, senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology at the Russian Academy of Sciences. "Citizens are absolutely not prepared for the reality, to learn what people really think of them."

For example, Russian citizens are not prepared to accept even a part of the responsibility for the Crimean and Ukrainian crises. "There is this aggressive opinion that Crimean was ours and we didn't do anything wrong by taking it back, and that the sanctions the West has instituted against Russia have only strengthened the feeling among many Russians that the West is bad and Russia is good."

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