Russians have 'positive attitude' towards Estonians — survey

A Russian flag.
A Russian flag. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The majority of Russians have a positive view of Estonia, a new survey commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and carried out by the Yuri Levada Center found.

In total, 1,634 adults took part in the poll, titled "Estonia and Estonian society in the eyes of Russians between 2018 and 2021".

The survey studied the general attitudes towards Estonia and Estonians, the opinions and judgments of Russians, how informed they are about Estonia, as well as their main sources of information.

The results show that in general, the majority - 52 percent - of Russians have a favorable view of Estonia, saying they had either a positive or very positive view. Seventeen percent said they held a negative view.

Younger people and those with higher education were more likely to have a positive view of Estonia, while negative views are held by those over 55.

Part of the Russian-Estonian border in Southeastern Estonia. Source: Mirjam Mõttus/ERR

The respondents were more critical when describing relations between the two states. Only 8 percent thought relations between Estonia and Russia were good, 22 percent considered relations normal or peaceful, 29 percent of respondents thought they were cool, 12 percent said tense and 7 percent considered them to be hostile.

The survey showed the level of interest Russians have in Estonia was quite modest, and that they are not very informed about Estonia.

The majority of information about Estonia comes schools (26 percent) and state television channels (29 percent). Russians are mainly interested in Estonia's nature, popular sites, culture, tourism and history.

Interest higher in border regions

A separate poll was conducted in regions bordering Estonia and attitudes were significantly more positive.

The polling carried out in Leningrad Oblast, the city of Saint Petersburg and the Pskov Oblast showed 72 percent of respondents have a positive or very positive view of Estonia. Those with a negative view totaled 10 percent.

Fourteen percent of respondents considered relations between Estonia and Russia good, while 25 percent said they were peaceful, 34 percent considered them cool, 11 percent considered the relations tense and 8 percent considered them hostile.

Pskov's Kremlin. Source: Pixabay.

Interest in Estonia is also greater in northwestern Russia and Estonia is considerably better known there than in the rest of Russia.

"Which is no doubt the result of active contacts between people and cross-border cooperation through the years," the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement about the poll's results.

Cross-border cooperation between Estonia and Russia is important in the view of 56 percent of residents of northwestern Russia, 37 percent of respondents said they had a neutral view and 7 percent of respondents said they had a negative view.

Residents of Pskov Oblast took a greater interest in cross-border cooperation. According to respondents, the development of tourism and cultural ties were priority areas, as well as environmental cooperation and encouraging business and economic ties.

The Yuri Levada Center is an independent NGO.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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