Foreigners View Russia as ‘Unpredictable,’ Overseas Cooperation Head Says

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(Moscow Times – – March 13, 2014) Foreigners perceive Russia as “unpredictable and aggressive” and it will take Moscow years to improve on this image, the head of a state agency for overseas cooperation has said.

The head of Rossotrudnichestvo, Konstantin Kosachyov, whose agency was established in part to improve Russia’s image abroad, offered no criticism of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine or its recent anti-gay laws in an interview with Vedomosti published Thursday.

He did, however, acknowledge that Moscow’s foreign and domestic policies have played a role.

“We truly have not been intimidated by the common majority opinion in recent years, when we consider ourselves to be right,” Kosachyov said.

Some people also perceive Russia as the “second edition of the Soviet Union” and are convinced that it is “by definition, unpredictable and aggressive,” he said

Kosachyov said Russia should begin work on improving its image immediately, though he did not specify what this work might entail.

“If we have not paid sufficient attention to this work during the last two decades, then improving the unjust attitudes toward Russia will also take years,” he said.

Following the dispatch of Russian troops to Crimea, a poll conducted by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal showed that 72 percent of Americans view Russia as an adversary rather than an ally.

Only 5 percent of Americans have a positive view of Russian President Vladimir Putin, while 63 percent view him negatively, the poll results released Wednesday showed.

The poll, conducted on March 5-9 gave a margin of error of 3.1 percent.