By Sasha Zhuk
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
The All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion
(VTsIOM) established that a majority of Russians approve of the actions of
their compatriots who went to the Donbass as volunteers to support the militia.
65% of respondents are supportive of the volunteers. 22%
have a negative opinion toward supporting the militias. A third of the sample
(33%) believes that the volunteers who left Russia to fight on the Donbass are
mostly idealists who believe they are fighting a just war. 28% believe that the
volunteers are mostly defenders of Russia’s interests. 16% believe they are
mercenaries. Only 5% called them adventurers, and 3%–bandits.
When it comes to supporting a decision by a relative to
fight on the Donbass, one part of Russians is supportive (45%), while another
part is opposed (45%). The most supportive are men (55%) and the members of the
Communist Part of the Russian Federation (53%).
When it comes to the question whether the Russian government
should take measures against citizens who are fighting on the Donbass, more
than half (57%) were opposed. One in four (26%) believes they should be
rewarded. Only 5% believe that the volunteers ought to be punished.
Therefore the overall portrait of a Russian volunteer
remains a positive one.
At the same time, one has to admit that 20% with negative
feelings is still a lot. According to Andrey Fursov, a historian and the
Director of the Center of Russian Studies at the Institute of Fundamental and
Applied Research at Moscow State University, some of these 20% are simply
poorly informed about the international situation. Others are motivated by
their parochial interests, believing that Russia ought to avoid involvement in
the Ukraine conflict so as to avoid sanctions.
“But overall I would like to note that over the course of
last several years, even prior to the Ukraine crisis, there was a turn-around
in the Russian public opinion. Even those who still believed in it had lost
faith in the “good West” myth. The members of the “fifth column” are a separate
question, they are simply earning the money they are receiving from abroad.”
“The aggression of the collective West against Yugoslavia,
Syria, Libya…All of that left its mark on how Russians perceive reality. And
the events in Ukraine finally demonstrated that the West has adopted an openly
anti-Russian position. The West is objectively supporting Nazis and is trying to
create a Russophobic state on our border,” Fursov said in an interview with
According to Fursov, the West is once again trying to use
Nazism as a battering ram against historical Russia: “People understand this
perfectly well. Moreover, the population of Ukraine’s South East is mainly
Russian, who are mentally part of the Russian World. It is not by accident that
the anti-Banderite uprising took place in the same areas where the local
population offered the staunchest resistance against the Nazis in the Second
World War. I think that the support of the militia is due to the fact that our
people turned on its historical memory.”
Other VTsIOM results:
Have any of our acquantances, friends, or relatives went to
the Donbass as volunteers: 7% Yes, 90% No, 3% Couldn’t answer.
J.Hawk’s Comment: Historically, one of the main weaknesses
of the Western powers over the centuries has been the inability to deal with
its own motives in an honest, open manner. The West is simply in denial as to
what its policies really are. While this may be effective as a “happy pill” for
the masses, it also means the policy becomes counter-productive and even
self-destructive, because not only do Western governments accidentally push all the wrong
buttons that awaken Russia’s “historical memory” by acting exactly in accordance
with the Russians’ worst fears, but they also telegraph their intent long before it
becomes a stated policy. The Russian government had played its role in alerting
the Russian public to what was coming. Two years ago such warnings may have
seemed alarmist, today they are widely accepted as true.
Speaking of warnings, two years ago the movie The Battle of
Sevastopol would have been prophetic. Now it is merely topical.