Interfax: Russians back economic, financial aid for southeast Ukraine – poll

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MOSCOW. June 2 (Interfax) – The Russians are rethinking their vision of the political future of the southeastern Ukraine but the majority of them are unanimous that Russia must provide economic and financial support, not direct military aid, to these regions, a poll has shown.

The percentage of Russians who would like to see the southeastern regions of Ukraine as part of Russia has slipped over the past month by ten percentage points from 35% in April to 26% in May. The percentage of those favoring the independence of southeast Ukraine has, on the contrary, risen from 25% to 36%, sociologists at the Levada-Center told Interfax on Monday on the basis of the findings of their latest survey.

The number of those who would like the southeast to remain part of Ukraine but gain greater independence from Kyiv has dropped from 21% to 17%. The same six per cent did not objec t to these regions remaining part of Ukraine under conditions that had existed before the crisis.

Nearly 90% respondents said diplomatic assistance should be provided to the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, while 70% favored economic aid and 58% military-technical assistance (advice and weapons), according to the poll conducted by sampling among 1,600 respondents aged 18 and above in 130 urban and rural populated areas across 45 regions. The majority of Russians (56%) are against introduction of troops in Ukraine.

Asked by sociologists whether Russia should recognize the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic, 72% respondents replied affirmatively, 11% said no, and 17% did not have an opinion.

By late May the number of Russians, who believe that Russia has the right to annex territories where ethnic Russians feel being discriminated against, has dropped from 58% to 41%, according to the Levada Center. Meanwhile, the percentage of those w ho believe that Russia has no such right but in the case of Crimea acted lawfully, in accordance with international law, has soared from 28% to 42%.

According to 59% respondents, Russia must actively support pro-Russian forces in southeast Ukraine (20% against it), 61% approve and 20 % disapprove of Russian “volunteers” participating in the events in the southeast; 59% respondents said the activists who seized government buildings to demand autonomy acted correctly (20% disagreed).

The majority (77%) of respondents condemned the Ukrainian army operation aimed at preventing the southeast’s secession from Ukraine with one in ten Russian respondents (9%) backing such a tactic.