30 January 2014, 14:18

Majority of Russians tend to describe Ukrainian events as coup attempt - poll

Majority of Russians tend to describe Ukrainian events as coup attempt - poll

An overwhelming majority of Russians (84%) see opposition protests in Kiev as a coup attempt and a third express their indignation at the opposition's actions, Levada Center said, referring to a poll of 1,603 people in 130 populated localities in 45 regions on January 24-27.

Almost a quarter of Russians (24%) side with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in this conflict, and 9% support the opposition.

Over a half of the respondents (58%) denied supporting either side. Most respondents said they were following the Ukrainian events in one way or another: 9% were watching them very closely, 35% rather attentively and 40% gave a cursory glance.

Ten percent said they were not following the protests in Ukraine at all, and 6% never heard about that.

In the opinion of respondents aware of the Kiev protests, the demonstrations resulted from the Western wish to bring Ukraine into the orbit of its political interests, nationalist sentiments, "indignation at the corrupt regime of Yanukovych" and the wish to free Ukraine from Russia's influence.

Some suggested that the demonstrators wanted to make Ukraine a civilized country, displayed civil dignity, rejected an outrage of the authorities and protested against the harsh conduct of the Berkut police force.

As to how the respondents felt about the protests, 33% said they were indignant, 22% expressed surprise, 12% irritation, 3% approval and 1% admiration.

Twenty-six percent said they had no sentiments about the protests at all. In the opinion of Russians following the Ukrainian events, Yanukovych and his government, the opposition and the authorities in Western countries were responsible for the escalation of the conflict.

A minority blamed the Russian administration for the escalation of the conflict.

Nearly a quarter of Russians (23%) said the crisis would end with the resumption of Ukraine-EU Euro-integration negotiations, 19% said the protesters would be dispersed, 17% said the confrontation would spread outside of downtown Kiev and eventually develop into a civil war, and 16% said the Ukrainian president would step down and the country will hold an early election.

Most Russians (59%) believe that Russia and Ukraine should be independent but friendly countries, with open borders; 16% stand for their unification into a single state, and 19% presume that Russia and Ukraine should have a closed border regime with visas and customs.

Mass disturbances in Ukraine started after the government and the president had refused to sign an association agreement with the European Union at the Vilnius summit on November 28-29, 2013.

The Ukrainian administration said the agreement had to be revised and simultaneously resumed negotiations on boosting relations with Russia.

A new outbreak of protests and clashes between demonstrators and the police started in Kiev after the Verkhovna Rada passed on January 16, 2014, a package of laws regulating the registration and operation of non-governmental organizations "foreign agents", introduced criminal liability for interference in the operation of governmental information resources and tightened criminal punishment for mass disturbances, blocking and seizure of buildings and similar actions.

Although the laws caused the negative reaction of Western politicians and officials and international human rights organizations, Ukrainian President Yanukovych signed the bills passed by the Verkhovna Rada into law on January 17.

Yanukovych met with opposition leaders on January 25 and the sides agreed that the protesters and the police would leave streets and squares of the Kiev center step by step.

The president accepted the proposal to amnesty all protesters engaged in the actions during the political crisis.

He also agreed to adjust the constitution. In addition, Yanukovych offered Batkivshchyna faction leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk to be the prime minister and UDAR leader Vitali Klitschko to be a deputy prime minister for humanitarian affairs. Both declined the proposition.

The Verkhovna Rada repealed the laws, which caused protests by the opposition, and the president accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on January 28.

Voice of Russia, Interfax

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