Interfax: Interests of ethnic Russians in Crimea should be protected better – poll

Russian Naval Vessel in Ukrainian Port

(Interfax – March 6, 2014) Most Russian citizens believe that their country should actively protect the interests of ethnic Russians in Crimea, the head of the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM), Valeriy Fedorov, has said. He was speaking at an Open Tribune session in the State Duma on 6 March, as reported by privately-owned Russian news agency Interfax on the same day.

The same question whether Russia should actively protect the interests of ethnic Russians in Crimea or it should better not to clash with the Ukrainian authorities was asked in 2009 and last weekend. Fedorov said that five years ago, 73 per cent of those polled replied that the interests of ethnic Russians should be protected in Crimea more actively and the recent poll’s figures are almost the same (71 per cent against 17 per cent of the polled who think that it is better not to clash with the Ukrainian authorities).

Fedorov also noted that Russians’ interest in Ukraine had been increasing over the past two months; 72 per cent followed events three weeks ago, 74 per cent – two weeks ago, and 80 per cent monitored Ukrainian events last week, including 35 per cent who did it carefully.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Fedorov as saying that another recent poll suggested that 32 per cent of Russians describe the Kiev events as a coup or seizure of power, 28 per cent as an anarchy, lawlessness and banditism, another 28 per cent as a civil war, 8 per cent as American provocation, and 3 per cent as West’s interference.

As regards the future, 68 per cent of the polled forecast the deterioration of the situation and only 7 per cent believe it will be normalized, Fedorov said.

He added that as early as 10 years ago, most of Russians (69 per cent) thought that they have much in common with Ukrainians against 16 per cent who thought the opposite. Today, as many as 38 per cent say that there are more things which separate Russians and Ukrainians.