Russia's image in the world takes a dive 

Sculpture of President Vladimir Putin
8/7/2015 3:00 PM
Category: International

Russian President Vladimir Putin may enjoy sky-high support rates in his own country, but a study by the Pew Research Center found that the United States and its president, Barack Obama, are far more liked than Russia and Putin. The study was conducted in 40 countries, asking 45,000 people.

Almost 46,000 respondents in 40 nations gave their opinion on Russia and Putin and the findings are not favorable. The United States has a better image almost everywhere.

The strongest negative sentiment is in Poland and Jordan, both at 80 percent. In case of Poland, the distrust goes back long time, as the memory of atrocities committed by Stalin's Soviet Union against Poland has never properly healed. The center said that the negative public opinion in Jordan may be influenced by Moscow’s current support for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Jordan’s neighbor and the source of hundreds of thousands of refugees in Jordan.

Anti-Russian sentiment is also particularly strong in Israel, at 74 percent and despite its sizable minority of Jews who originated from Russia, Japan (73 percent), Germany (70 percent) and France (70 percent).

Russia’s greatest support is in Vietnam (75 percent), a country where the Soviet Union supported the Communist takeover of US-backed South Vietnam. In only two other nations do about half or more of the public have a positive view of Russia: Ghana and China. In a number of countries, large segments of the public express no opinion about Russia.

Views of Russia can differ between generations. Americans aged 50 and older are far more critical of Moscow (78 percent unfavorable) than Americans in the 18 to 29 age group (56 percent).

Favorable opinion of Russia trails that of the US by a significant margin in most regions of the world. The image gap is 43 points in Europe – 69 percent see the US favorably, against 26 percent who still warm up to Russia, and it is 42 points in Africa (US 79 percent, Russia 37 percent). Only in the Middle East are opinions of Russia and the US comparable, both notably poor.

The survey indicates that Russia's image has especially deteriorated since the start of Ukraine war. For example, in 2010, half of Germans saw Russia favorably, but this figure is just 27 percent now.

Putin even more unpopular than his country

Only in two countries, where the study took place, more than half of the public have confidence in Putin to do the right thing in world affairs. Those countries are again Vietnam (70 percent) and China (54 percent). The average for the 40 nation was 24 percent. This contrasts with his popularity in Russia, where it is around 88 percent.

Putin's strongest critics are in Spain (92 percent have no confidence), Poland (87 percent), France (85 percent) and Ukraine (84 percent).

Africa, as a continent, has the most confidence in Putin with 32 percent, followed by Asia with 29 percent. That rating is 25 percent in the Middle East, 20 percent in Latin America and 15 percent in Europe. US President Barack Obama, on the other hand, is far more popular in all continents enjoying a 77-percent-backing in Africa, 75 percent in Europe, 69 in Asia, 51 in Latin America and 36 percent in the Middle East.

The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American think tank based in Washington, D.C., that provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the United States and the world.

J.M. Laats, S. Tambur

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