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Russians fear war with neighbors, colonization by foreigners

Published time: August 20, 2014 13:56
Ukrainian troops are pictured near the eastern Ukrainian town of Seversk (Reuters / Gleb Garanich)

Ukrainian troops are pictured near the eastern Ukrainian town of Seversk (Reuters / Gleb Garanich)

Over a quarter of Russians see the colonization of their country by foreigners as the greatest threat to the nation, and the fears over a possible war with neighbors have doubled over the past year.

According to the latest poll conducted by the VTSIOM agency, the proportion of the population who consider the colonization of Russia by foreigners “quite possible” is 27 percent, which is down from last year’s 35 percent. Thirty-five percent said the probability of such an outcome was fairly low and another 35 percent said it was impossible.

Terrorist attacks ranked second in the rating of most feared threats with 24 percent saying they were their primary concern.

The threat of war with immediate neighbors was third by a very narrow margin – 23 percent, but this figure was more than double last year’s 10 percent. At the same time, very few people see the possibility of a military conflict with countries far away – 13 percent said the war with the West was possible and 10 percent anticipate a military conflict with Southern and South Eastern countries.

The general decline of science and culture was a primary concern for 24 percent of those polled (down from 33 percent last year) and 21 percent of people named environmental pollution as the primary threat. Depletion of Russia’s mineral reserves is considered a threat by 15 percent of the population – on the same level as a strike by a giant meteor.

Even less people fear famine or depopulation because of falling birth rates.

Other recent polls conducted with the background of the latest confrontation with the US, EU and their allies, also show an increasing number of Russians see foreign countries as enemies. Earlier this month 32 percent of Russians said that the goal of the current sanctions campaign is to weaken Russia and diminish its influence in the world.

At the same time, the popularity of President Putin and other state officials hit all-time highs. In mid-August, about 52 percent of Russians said they were ready to vote for Vladimir Putin if a presidential poll were to be held the next weekend, compared to 29 percent in January this year.