The Sociological Study “Russians’ Perspective on Russia - Ukraine War”: General Findings

The Sociological Study “Russians’ Perspective on Russia - Ukraine War”: General Findings


Methodology: CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interview) is a telephone survey based on an interactive structured questionnaire with the use of special software for the conduct of sociological surveys. Lemur CATI is an application that is installed on computers/laptops. It is used to conduct telephone interviews. 

The sample: The sample size consists of 1207 interviewees (the general population being the entire adult population of the Russian Federation). The sample is proportionally stratified by territorial characteristics (FD and urban/rural settlements). At the stage of selecting respondents, gender and age quotas were applied – men/women in 5 age groups (18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-59 and 60+). In this way, the sample reflects the geographical parameters and the gender and age proportions of the general population – all adults (18 years and over) in Russia.

Official statistical data on the population of the Russian Federation and the gender and age composition of the population were taken from open official sources on the Internet. The statistical error does not exceed 2.8%. The probability of error is 0.95.

Field phase period: 20.11.2023-5.12.2023

Number of receivers taken – 30133

Number of completed questionnaires – 1200

Refusals and failures to meet quotas – 27781 calls. Postponed to call back – 1152.

Note: Russian mass surveys have their peculiarities. According to several sociologists, even if a research company follows all the rules and tries to create a sample of high quality, it is still very difficult to carry out an objective study. Increasing the accessibility of respondents somewhat increases loyalty to the government and government initiatives, according to some studies. However, it should be borne in mind that citizens who are not loyal to the government may be reluctant to take part in the survey for fear of reprisals. 

The response rate to the survey is around 5%. This means that 95% of the people who have been asked to take part in the survey are not in agreement with any further communication.


  • The main associations with the “ideal world” have not changed from previous waves of the survey and relate mainly to peace, absence of conflict and stability, i.e. the “ideal world” is “without war”, “calm”, “stable”, “there is confidence in the future”. 
  • The declining economy, inflation, ruble devaluation, low incomes and high prices, corruption and the SMO are generally seen as the most pressing problems facing Russia. Unemployment, low wages, poor quality health care, general instability/inability to plan and incompetence of government officials were also cited as current problems. Skyrocketing prices and the impoverishment of the majority of the population continue to be a source of complaint among the Russians.
  • Lack of aircraft maintenance due to sanctions, and parallel imports helping to meet immediate needs, is not a concern for the majority of respondents. They are more concerned about the high cost of flying and travelling in general, which is becoming increasingly unaffordable for the average Russian.
  • The problem of corruption is also mentioned spontaneously. Bribery, nepotism, money laundering by government officials and politicians, and theft from federal and local budgets are all included in the concept of corruption. The majority of respondents think that there is corruption at both central and local levels: it is more widespread at the central level and less under control at the local level. Corruption has a negative impact on all areas and aspects of life in the country as a whole and on its citizens individually: it hinders the development of the country as a whole; it reduces the standard of living; it does not improve the infrastructure of the settlements; it does not ensure equality before the law; it increases the level of mistrust in the authorities, etc. The fight against corruption must be carried out by law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and a special committee set up for this purpose. But every citizen must also be active and fight corruption at his level. Increasing the severity of punishment, the inevitability of punishment, and the transparency of government activities (especially about budgetary expenditures) are necessary to fight corruption effectively.
  • The current problems that directly affect the respondents and their family members correlate with the general problems in Russia: rapid price increases, decreasing level of material well-being, lack of full access to education, healthcare, inability to travel, etc.
  • According to the respondents, the quality of products and goods has not changed over the past year. However, it is worth noting the dissatisfaction of the participants (especially young people) with the withdrawal of well-known foreign brands whose products had an optimal quality/price ratio. Youngsters are missing McDonalds, Nesquik, Coca-Cola, Zara. Cosmetics, household chemicals, toiletries, clothes, shoes, appliances, cars – most of these goods now come from China. Prices have risen almost twofold and the quality of the goods is poor. When discussing the problem of product quality, those interviewed complained about reducing the volume of products/packaging – 90 grams instead of 100 grams, 900 ml instead of 1 litre.
  • In no industry, except food, is import substitution considered a success. Import substitution is most catastrophic in the car sector – people feel indignant that a Russian car made almost 100% from Chinese parts costs 3.5 million roubles. To increase the success rate of import substitution, the government needs to support manufacturers, especially new companies. The vast majority of respondents did not experience a shortage of medicines last year. In 2022, there were interruptions in the supply of certain medicines, but supplies have now been restored, although interruptions in the supply of creams remain. Some respondents noted the development of the pharmaceutical industry in Russia as a result of the sanctions. However, most participants still do not trust the quality and effectiveness of Russian manufacturers and prefer familiar, proven European medicines. The media also frequently reports on the shortage of medicines for seriously ill patients (cancer, diabetes), and this information is confirmed by seriously ill people from the participants’ environment. The vast majority of participants do not support a possible abortion ban: this decision should be taken by a woman (family), and the state has no right to interfere in the personal affairs of citizens. The negative consequences of an abortion ban are an increase in the number of clandestine abortions, which will pose a threat to women’s health and lives; an increase in the number of abandoned children. The demographic problem should not be solved by bans, but by increasing the motivation to give birth and by appropriate support programmes for parents.
  • Attitudes towards recognising LGBT people as extremists depend on the age of the participants: young people are more likely to oppose this decision, calling it too harsh and saying that LGBT people cannot be equated with extremists, they do not commit terrorist acts and do not threaten the lives and health of other people; older participants are more categorical and aggressive, supporting this decision, calling LGBT people sick, perverted and dangerous for raising a healthy nation of the Russians.
  • In the list of values, there are personal values related to the family, the health of the loved ones and the material well-being, the financial stability.
  • The concept of justice is perceived and interpreted as honesty, acting according to one’s conscience, and getting what one deserves. Modern Russian society is mostly rated at 3 out of 5 in terms of fairness. Modern society of the Russian Federation is fair: the rule of law (which in most cases still functions); social benefits for children and pensioners; free basic health care and education. Everything else is rather unfair: pension reform and raising the retirement age; income inequality; social inequality; unfairly high prices; quality education and medicine only paid for with money; nepotism when applying for a job; unfair punishment for status and wealthy people when they break the law; miserable pensions; unfair work of the judicial system; too few social benefits and privileges; electronic summonses and increased fines for failure to appear at military registration and enlistment offices.
  • Freedom is understood in a very broad sense and generally corresponds to the value defined. Freedom of thought, freedom of choice (religion, education, profession, residence), freedom of movement, freedom of speech, etc. were mentioned when talking about “freedom”. The score of 3 out of 5 indicates the dominance of “freedom” in contemporary Russian society. People feel free in the following areas: movement within the country, choice of religion, choice of profession, freedom of speech (some respondents noted that freedom is limited: freedom of speech, rallies, travel (especially abroad), choice of education and future profession (preferably only for a fee), choice of doctor/quality of medical care, freedom of military service and participation in the military).
  • Prigozhin’s march to Moscow was the most striking event of 2023.
  • The overwhelming majority of those taking part stressed the need to keep Putin as president of Russia, seeing no alternatives to him and stating that only Putin needs to stay. 
  • Putin is the only one who can finish what is happening now and achieve the goals set. His replacement could pose a threat to the country as a whole and lead to the collapse of the Russian Federation. Respondents are almost unanimous in the view that Putin has the best chance of victory in the forthcoming elections. A significant number of respondents suggest that elections should not be held at all until after the armed conflict has ended.
  • Putin should prepare his successor, says the overwhelming majority of respondents. Some believe that he is already doing so and that he will be presented to society when the time is right.
  • Most of those polled were not able to name any specific figures who could become a worthy successor/alternative to the existing President. M. Mishustin, S. Sobyanin, D. Medvedev and A. Dyumin were mentioned more often among the figures who could become Putin’s alternative or successor.
  • Opinions on the existence of Putin’s doppelgangers were divided: some participants consider it absurd, while another part assumes that it is possible (the country is big, the president will not have time to go everywhere, it is acceptable).
  • Dividing the population according to their political preferences about the existing parties, the largest percentage of people give their vote to United Russia (stability, traditional values, sovereignty of the Russian Federation, large party, party of professionals, party of Putin). The Communists are in a conditional second place. They are popular with those who miss the Soviet Union. The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia is promising but not popular at the moment, although it has several useful initiatives and its supporters are mostly urban dwellers and young people. Following the death of its charismatic leader, the party has lost its appeal. It is worth noting that when describing the category of those who are against everything or apolitical (do not believe in the fairness of elections, do not believe that their vote makes a difference), respondents describe a rather large category of the active population. At the same time, when determining the percentage of this group, respondents deliberately underestimate it, saying that there are no more than 10-15% of such people.
  • Prizhozhin’s party is rather unattractive and incapacitated after his death: there is no new leader. After the march on Moscow, this political force will not even be allowed to register. The overwhelming majority of respondents said that all religions have equal rights in Russia, and no one religion has special preferences. At the same time, some participants from Moscow and St. Petersburg spontaneously mentioned the problem of preferences for Muslims. It is worth noting that the issue of migrants is a relevant one for the largest cities. At the same time, participants’ negative attitudes, especially towards people from the Caucasus (Chechnya), but also dissatisfaction with the dominance of Asian migrants, especially in the medical sector, describe migrants as impertinent, angry, aggressive and belligerent. The large and growing number of migrants poses a threat to the preservation of Russian culture, to the security of the Russians, to the popularisation of Islam and ethnic conflicts among adults and children. Participants from different regions also noted that Muslim migrants “hate the Russians, they are impertinent, and fear nothing”. At the same time, they receive a significant number of benefits that the Russians could receive; they receive housing, and obtain citizenship through a simplified process, but do not participate in the SMO. Participants from Moscow noted that land is being confiscated in the city under the guise of the construction of mosques, although then almost separate settlements with business and other infrastructure are built around these mosques. The interviewees are provoked by the following: impertinent behaviour of migrants; untidy appearance; Muslim holidays during which rams are slaughtered in city squares; obsessive behaviour towards women; initiation of fights with locals; unwillingness to learn the Russian language and accept Russian culture; dismissive attitude towards Orthodoxy, etc. They are in favour of a tougher policy towards migrants: restrictions on the granting of citizenship; compulsory participation of migrants in the SMO (those who have received Russian citizenship); the setting of quotas for the number of migrants; deportation in the event of offences; constant raids and inspections in areas where migrants are concentrated; compulsory knowledge and adequate command of the Russian language, etc. The availability of cheap labour willing to work hard was cited as one of the positive consequences of the presence of a significant number of migrants. Most respondents also noted that migrants are very united and help each other. This allows them to behave in an arrogant and superior manner. In response to the question of whether there is a risk that Russia will be dominated by Muslims in the future, most respondents thought that such a development is not possible. Respondents from the Siberian Federal District spontaneously mentioned the dominance of the Chinese, who already feel like masters in their region. The signs of Russia’s victory in the SMO are as follows: complete purge of the Donbass; full official accession of new territories to the Russian federation, recognition of this accession by the world (but in addition, the “liberation of Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv” is considered obligatory – “the Black Sea is ours, these regions are originally russian”); cessation of hostilities, recognition of the territories of the Russian federation as those currently captured (Donbass, part of Zaporizhzhya and Kherson regions – this answer was given more often than in previous waves); seizure of Kyiv, full accession of Ukraine to Russia; division of Ukraine into 2/3 parts, the whole of Ukraine, the south and the east are annexed to Russia; complete demilitarisation of Ukraine; complete denazification of Ukraine; guarantees that Ukraine will not join NATO; lifting of sanctions and return of Russia’s positions on the world stage that it had before 2014; the change of Ukraine’s leadership to one loyal to Russia.
  • Even Russia’s defeat in the SMO is not considered by the overwhelming majority of respondents. Assuming Russia’s possible defeat in the SMO, the hypothetical signs are loss of new territories; payment of reparations, which will increase inflation and reduce Russian citizens’ incomes; loss of Crimea; Ukraine’s return to 1991 borders; Ukraine joining NATO; and nuclear war.
  • Respondents gave a very wide range of estimates for the duration of the SMO: before/after the Russian presidential elections in 2024; 1.5-2 years; 3-5 years; and more than 5 years (the last two options were mentioned less frequently).
  • Respondents, especially those from remote regions, are still less concerned about an increase in the number of drone attacks on the territory of the Russian Federation. There is slightly more concern in the border regions, but there is almost no fear, rather unpleasant feelings.
  • The overwhelming majority of respondents are against a new wave of mobilisation for the following reasons: only professional military personnel should participate in the SMO and of their own free will after signing a contract. Some participants noted that the silent mobilisation has not ended and that the authorities would carry out a new “silent” and possibly open wave of mobilisation for the following reasons: the need for new soldiers to rotate and replace those who had been in the SMO for a longer period; the need for new soldiers to replace those who had been killed; a wide area of occupied territories to hold. In general, they expect an open mobilisation after the presidential elections. It will not be announced before the elections so as not to increase tensions and dissatisfaction in society, according to the respondents.
  • Emotions describing expectations for 2024: fear, tension, emptiness, indifference, hopelessness, vagueness, fearing the unknown, uncertainty. Older women and young people were more likely to mention positive emotions, faith and hope.
  • As in previous waves, the more vivid expressions of patriotism (more frequent among women), their expectations for 2024 and the presidential elections are based on their own emotions and personal desires, so they note that positive changes are possible even before the presidential elections: the end of the SMO, the stabilisation of the country’s economy. 

    A deterioration in some areas in 2024 (especially after the elections), an increase in inflation, and a new wave of mobilisation are not ruled out by respondents who tend to think more rationally. In terms of possible changes, respondents are most interested in the dependence of any changes on the extension or the end of the SMO.
  • Future Russia: strong, solid, independent, free, rich, developed, united, stable, prosperous everywhere, multinational, confident, authoritative, hi-tech, intelligent, self-sufficient, democratic.

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