Russians do not like the West

Russians have fallen out of love with Western liberal democracy

Russian attitudes to the West are known to have soured in recent years. But it may surprise Western readers that the majority of Russians now express a positive dislike of the West in general, and particularly of America. Nor do most of them regard liberal democracy as a model towards which Russia should aspire any more, either.

These are the findings of an ambitious new socio-economic study entitled “Are Russians Moving Backwards?” by Sergei Guriev of the prestigious New Economic School in Moscow, Aleh Tsyvinski of Yale University, and Maxim Trudolubov of the business newspaper Vedomosti. The research is based on a mass of data on values, attitudes and perceptions between 2003-2008.

The findings are stark. When Russian attitudes to democracy and the market place are compared with those of other countries, Russians come out as among the least enthusiastic in the world, a good deal less keen even than the people of Belarus.

Where you might have expected young Russians to like the West more than their parents, in fact, the opposite is true. The youngest respondents (20-year-olds) showed the same degree of dislike of the US as their grandparents, while the 35-45 year olds were less hostile to the US.

Western policy makers should pay attention to this report. But they should also bear in mind that the pendulum of Russian history will keep on swinging. This study is based on a particular period in the swing away from Western political ideas and models. How long this swing will last is a question beyond its remit.

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