Updated at 11:09,11-12-2017

Public opinion poll indicates reorientation towards Russia

By Vyachaslaw Budkevich, BelaPAN

A majority of Belarusians have drastically changed their geopolitical preferences in the last several months in favor of closer ties with Russia, prominent Belarusian sociologist Andrey Vardamatski, a professor of the University of Warsaw, told Deutsche Welle, citing a recent poll.

When asked whether they preferred unification with Russia or membership in the EU, more than 60 percent of those interviewed in late April by Warsaw-based Belarusian Analytical Workshop replied that they would like Belarus and Russia to become one state and only 18 percent spoke for integration into the EU, despite the fact that pro-Western sentiments were dominant only recently, Dr. Vardamatski said.

The pendulum swing may be explained by media propaganda and the fact that the turmoil in Ukraine makes the situation in Belarus look more acceptable, he said.

The poll indicates that 65 percent of the residents of Belarus view the annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea by Russia as fair and only 15 percent see it as unfair, Dr. Vardamatski said.

“In the eyes of Belarusian citizens, Russia is a country where they can make money, crossing the border without any problems,” he said. “However, when a Belarusian thinks about Europe, the first thing he recalls are lines near embassies and visas that are difficult to obtain and expensive. That is why he feels the EU doesn’t need him, and the European Union becomes distant and alien in his perception.”