Russians becoming more favorable to Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus – poll

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MOSCOW. Jan 30 (Interfax) – The attempts of the new Georgian authorities to improve relations with Russia have affected the attitudes of Russians toward that country, sociological studies indicate.

Presently, the number of positive comments on Georgia exceeds the number of negative, sociologists from the Levada Center told Interfax on Wednesday.

Thus, while in January last year 36% of Russians had a positive attitude toward neighboring Georgia and 48% a negative, in January 2013 the correlation changed to positive – 46% and 40%, respectively, judging by the latest poll of residents of 130 cities and towns in 45 constituent territories of Russia.

Georgia severed diplomatic relations with Russia on September 2, 2008, after the armed conflict in South Ossetia. The two countries closed down their diplomatic missions. At the moment, Swiss embassies represent the interests of the two countries in Moscow and Tbilisi.

The Georgian Dream coalition led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili won the parliamentary election in Georgia last year. Later he told reporters that Georgia is turning a new leaf in relations with Russia and giving up aggressive rhetoric.

The Levada Center study also indicates the growth of sympathies for Ukraine and Belarus in Russia. Now 74% of Russians say they hold a generally positive attitude toward Ukraine and 85% toward Belarus, as compared to 64% and 74%, respectively, at the beginning of last year.