July 13, 2009
At the end of May, Levada Center?s opinion poll demonstrated that the United States? standing amongst the Russian populace was as dismally low as it had been during the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia.
But wait! The rapidly cooling relations between these two countries, as portrayed by the perpetually alarmed press, were undoubtedly about to improve at the recent U.S.-Russian Federation summit. The press described Obama?s role in that long-awaited event as that of a ?Dove of Peace.? (Ach ja, I am guilty of catching Br?no during its opening weekend. In that movie, the ?Dove of Peace? role was assigned to the likes of Bono. FYI.)
However, Levada Center?s next opinion poll, shortly prior to Obama?s meeting with Medvedev, showed the opposite tendency. (Could the press really be wrong?) Only 42 percent of respondents believed that Russian-American relations may improve, while 39 percent envisioned no change. Most important, the number of optimists actually decreased as compared to data gathered around the time of Obama?s inauguration. As noted in an aptly titled article, ?Nyet, We Can?t? in Gazeta.ru, the majority of those polled (56 percent) most recently also criticized the specifics of current American foreign policy, including the plans for disarmament.
Various individuals blankly titled ?experts? usually explain the fall of American popularity in Russia in the most predictable manner: that state?s progressive suffocation of the media. Contrary to these statements, in my experience, Russian web media appears to have quite a bit of freedom, at least in its ability to avoid stifling political correctness. In fact, the online versions of certain newspapers and radio programs are so caustic that they make their North American counterparts sound like Pravda circa 1936.
Furthermore, My One-Woman-Totally-Non-Scientific-but-What-the-Hell-Russian-State-News-Channels-Watching Spree last week did not reveal any shocking propaganda. In reality, the reports were rather, well, bland. And, even though Levada Center?s latest Russian poll regarding the U.S. predated the summit, I am not expecting a significant change in the numbers. But, of course, I?m not an expert. ?Vassever.?
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