Russian People Split Over Integration with Europe

A serious split has appeared in Russian society over the question of integration into Europe, according to Mikhail Gorshkov, the director of the Institute for Complex Social Research at the Russian Academy of Sciences. Gorshkov expressed this opinion yesterday at the Rosbalt news agency during the presentation of an analytical paper prepared by the institute on 'Europe and Germany through Russian Eyes'. According to Gorshkov, around half of Russians acknowledge the necessity of working with Europe, while roughly one third of those questioned during the research expressed scepticism towards this idea. 47.9% of those interviewed believe that a strong Russia represents a threat to European countries, so, consequently, Europe is not interested in seeing genuine development in Russia. However, 38.1% of Russians strongly believe that developed European countries are interested in Russia overcoming its present crisis.

Mikhail Gorshkov said that the Russian split over Europe and the prospects for integration falls not along territorial or age lines, but according to wealth. Better-off sections of society are generally more in favour of working with Europe, while less well-off sections tend to be opposed. Gorshkov also mentioned that about 30% of those questioned believe that Russia's development strategy should be oriented towards the Slavic triangle of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, and see this alliance as an alternative to European integration.

The Institute for Complex Social Research interviewed 1750 Russians from 11 social groups on a quota basis. The research was carried out with financial support from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

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