Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Polish and Russians - the most distant of relatives

A study conducted by The All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center in collaboration with three Polish partners - CBOS, IQS Group and ARC Rynek i Opinia, for the first time allows evaluating the mutual vision of the two people in the early twenty-first century. To a large extent the outcome of the study was caused by the disunity and lack of close contacts between the citizens of Poland and Russia in recent years.

The study conducted in Poland and Russia was the first "measurement" of the mutual vision of the Polish and Russians. The study was held in the two countries concurrently, and the same methods and similar research tools were applied. The fact that earlier such studies have not been conducted says a lot about the scale of the lack of knowledge and trust between the two countries, which is a major issue in the Polish-Russian relations. The study has fully confirmed that the lack of trust, as well as limited information and few personal contacts are the main barriers in the relations between Poland and Russia, emphasized Lukasz Mazurkiewicz, head of ARC Rynek i Opinia that was involved in the study along with two other Polish companies.

Unfortunately, the survey revealed that Russian citizens know little about contemporary Poland. The most common answer to the question: "What comes to mind when you hear the word Poland?" was "a state." Moreover, the index of most repeated answers was very low - only 6 percent. At the same time, 44 percent of respondents did not have any associations with the word Poland.

The Poles had more to say when asked about their associations with Russia. They named different aspects of life of the country and the Russian people: the politics after 1991, heads of state Putin and Medvedev (21 percent), strong-hand power (11 percent), the Smolensk disaster that killed the President of Poland Lech Kaczynski in 2010 (11 percent), ​contrast between the rich and the poor (11 percent), alcoholism (10 percent), and crime (9 percent).

The survey respondents also chose the most important values for their compatriots. In addition, the Poles indicated the most important value for the Russians (in their opinion), and the Russians in the same way showed their understanding of the Poles. Sometimes these ideas were quite similar, and sometimes were completely differed.

On the one hand, the Poles often stressed their attachment to the family and traditions (54 percent) and religion (48 percent). The Russians confirmed it, speaking of the Polish attachment to family and tradition (35 percent) and religion (24 percent). On the other hand, 66 percent of the Poles named their desire for freedom, but only 12 percent of Russian noticed this trait in the Poles. In Russia, a significant number of respondents drew attention to the entrepreneurial spirit of the Poles (26 percent), in contrast, only 7 percent of the Poles named this trait.

The assessment of the love for order would certainly make many Poles smile as this is a trait hardly typical for their nation, while 20 percent of respondents in Russia mentioned it. Only 4 percent of the Poles considered it important.

A similar gap in the estimates was observed in other categories. For example, 46 percent of the Poles believe that an important trait of Russian character is respect for authority, while only 4 percent of the Russians named it. The Russians often named such qualities as tolerance (39 percent) and a sense of humor (34 percent). Only 2 percent and 6 percent of the Poles mentioned these traits.

The survey participants were also asked to assess the attitude of the leadership of the other county towards their country, as well as the attitude of ordinary citizens, people of these countries, and determine whether it is friendly or not.

48 percent of the Poles believe that the attitude of the Russian leadership towards Poland is "rather unfriendly," and 22 percent think it is hostile.

On the other hand, 48 percent of the Poles felt that the Russian attitude towards them was "friendly" and 5 percent - "very friendly." These numbers almost coincide with what the Poles think about Russians: 44 percent of them believe that the attitude of Poles towards Russia is "friendly" and 5 percent - "very friendly."
"Today, Polish and Russians have a well-formed and logical way of their own nature and cultural relations with other countries and peoples. To analyze the results of the study, we used the phrase" the most distant of relatives ", which clearly reflects the mutual vision of our two peoples. The most natural cultural environment for the Poles is the peoples of Central Europe - the Czechs and Slovaks, followed by Lithuanians and Ukrainians. Russians are "placed" a little further on this cultural map. It looks similar from the other side: the Russians are closest to Belarusians and Ukrainians, followed by Czechs and Slovaks, while the Poles are in the more distant range," Lukasz Mazurkiewicz commented the research results.

Alexander Storm