|Russians’ Indifference to Georgia|
04/03/2013 01:52 (77 Day 03:30 minutes ago)
The FINANCIAL -- Russia and Georgia’s history together has been colored by wars and occupations, including several recently.
On the other hand, many citizens of Georgia have, or have had, Russian friends and family. How has this national relationship affected the two peoples’ opinions of one another? These attitudes certainly fluctuate with time and contemporary events, but where do they stand now?
If you read this column in September of last year, you learned that Georgians in 2012 hadvery negative opinions of Vladimir Putin, with around 80% expressing distaste, but had a divided opinion of Russia: 34% had positive views and 35% had negative.This contrast runs through Georgians’ attitudes toward most countries: they are happy to express distaste withneighboring countries’ leaders, but it doesn’t seem to dictate their opinions of the greater populations so much. It seems Russians have a similar approach.
In some of our colleagues’ most recent polls in Russia, carried out just this February, 1500 respondents were asked about their attitudes toward Georgia, its relationship with Russia, and President Saakashvili . When asked their “general disposition” toward Georgia, a plurality expressed disinterest, but very few, only 11%, said they had a negative view of the country. They were not so kind to President Saakashvili , however: 50% had a negative opinion, and the virtual remainder couldn’t have cared less.
These attitudes are related to income and education, of course. The wealthy and better educated Russians have better general views of Georgia, and are less likely to be indifferent. For example, 57% of those making less than $130 USD a month said they don’t really care about Georgia, but barely more than a third of those in the highest income cohort said the same.
While the proportion of people with positive views of Georgia increases with income, so do the negative opinions, if less severely. On the other hand, when divided strictly by education, negative opinions are relatively unaffected and positive opinions grow with formal schooling.
Georgians’ Indecision on Russia -- To get a picture of the relationship from Georgia’s side, we can look directly at some GORBI data. In our two most recent quarterly polls, we were asked to include questions about Georgians’ perception of Russia. Unfortunately, because of client requests, questions from the two waves were phrased differently and had different responses from which to choose. While this has made the two incomparable, we can still learn something from them.
In August of 2012, when given the option of a neutral opinion, Georgians were split between their three options: approximately a third of respondents expressed negative views, a third positive, and the remainder opted to not answer definitively. In December, we saw a very different picture. Without the possibility of a neutral answer, it seems that most respondents chose a more positive outlook.
We can assume that Georgia’s general impression of their lifelong neighbor did not change overnight, so I will reiterate that the different wording and options mean that these two numbers do not represent a trend.
We can make one solid statement, however. Even with wars in recent and living memory, and a long history of tense border relationships, only about a third of Georgians have a strictly negative view of their neighbor to the north.
All statistics in this article have margins of error of 3.5% at the most, with 95% confidence.