Anti-Russian sentiment

Anti-Russian sentiment

Anti-Russian sentiment covers a wide spectrum of prejudices, dislikes or fears of Russia, Russians, or Russian culture, including Russophobia. In modern international politics the term "Russophobia" is also used more specifically to describe clichés preserved from the times of the Cold War.Aside from prevalent use in the media, the term "russophobia" was used specifically by Russian ambassador Yuri Fedotov to describe British-Russian relations in 2007. cite web|url=|title=Envoy complains Britons mistreat Russians|date=08-07-2007|accessdate=2007-07-30|pub=Reuters] [ [,,1809314,00.html "The west's new Russophobia is hypocritical - and wrong"] , "The Guardian", June 30, 2006] Many prejudices, often introduced as elements of political war against the Soviet Union, are still observed in the discussions of the relations with Russia. The extent of Russophobia varies country by country and depends not only on the geography but also the fraction of the society. The intensity of Russophobia in various countries evolved throughout history.


Dislike of Russians is sometimes a backlash of the policy of Russification in the times of Imperial Russia and Soviet Union and, a backlash of the policies of modern Russian government.Peter Lavelle goes back as far as the Csarist era to illustrate Western distrust and disdain for Russia. cite web|pub=Russia Profile|author=Peter Lavelle et al.|url=|title=RP’s Weekly Experts’ Panel: Deconstructing "Russophobia" and "Russocentric"|date=07-08-2005|accessdate=2007-07-30] However, some authors assert that Russophobia has a long tradition and already existed many centuries before Russia became one of the major powers in Europe.cite|title=Bram Stoker and Russophobia: Evidence of the British Fear of Russia in Dracula and The Lady of the Shroud|author=Jimmie E. Cain Jr.|isbn=0786424079|publisher=McFarland & Co Inc.,U.S.|date=15 May 2006]

During the 19th century the competition with Russia for the spheres of influence and colonies (see e.g. The Great Game and Berlin Congress) was a possible reason for the Russophobia in Great Britain where British propaganda of the time portrayed Russians as uncultivated Asiatic barbarians. [Peter Hopkirk. "The Great Game", Kodansha International, 1992, ISBN 4-7700-1703-0] These views spread to other parts of the world and are frequently reflected in literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Prometheism political strategy, conceived by Polish chief of state Józef Piłsudski, had as its aim the weakening of Tsarist Russia and later the Soviet Union. The Pan-Slavism movement that coincided with the Hungarian uprising of 1848 included anti-Russian sentiment, a reaction to Russia's involvement on the Austrian side of the conflict. This resulted in enmity of Austria-Hungary towards eastern orientation of many of its Slavic constituents in the second half of the 19th century. The elites began to see Russia as a threat and an enemy of Austro-Hungarian multi-ethnic empire. The public opinion became even more radicalized and Russophobic, as the common anti-Russian stereotypes fell onto a fertile ground.Fact|date=July 2007

In the 1930s, Adolf Hitler attempted to strengthen the Russophobe stereotypes with his racial theory of subhumans, in part to rationalize and justify the German invasion of The Soviet Union and the atrocities committed against its populace.

""Need, hunger, lack of comfort have been the Russians' lot for centuries. No false compassion, as their stomachs are perfectly extendible. Don't try to impose the German standards and to change their style of life. Their only wish is to be ruled by the Germans. <...> Help yourselves, and may God help you!" ("12 precepts for the German officer in the East", 1941) _ru. [ Политика геноцида] , Государственный мемориальный комплекс «Хатынь»]

It is difficult to draw a distinction from a casual xenophobia, observable for any two peoples living side by side or even intermixed and historically involved in armed conflicts.Fact|date=July 2007 Also it might not be always easy to separate actions unpopular in Russia caused by rational political concerns of its neighbors from the actions caused by an irrational Russophobia. The opinions on these matters are highly subjective and may vary a great deal between different historians.

Attitudes and claims of attitudes towards Russia and Russians by country

In the October of 2004, the International Gallup Organization announced that according to its poll,"Helsingin Sanomat", October 11, 2004, [ International poll: Anti-Russian sentiment runs very strong in Finland. Only Kosovo has more negative attitude] ] anti-Russian sentiment remained fairly strong throughout Europe and the West in general. It found that Russia was the least popular G-8 country globally. The percentage of population with a negative perception of Russia was 62% in Finland, 42% in the Czech Republic and Switzerland, 37% in Germany, 32% in Denmark and Poland, 23% in Estonia. However, according to the poll, the people of Kosovo had the lowest opinion of Russia: 73% of Kosovar respondents said their opinion was "very negative" or "fairly negative". Overall, the percentage of respondents with a positive view of Russia was only 31%.

A Russian commentator Vyacheslav Nikonov claimed Russia’s image is so negative in the West by quoting his Canadian friend: "The main problem is that these Russians have white skin. If they had been green, or pink, or came from Mars…or had flowers sticking out of their ears, then everybody would have said – well, these people are different, like Turks, or Chinese, or Japanese. We have no questions about the Japanese. They are different, their civilisation is different. But these Russians … they are white but they havetotally different brains … which is thoroughly suspicious." []

Baltic states

The Russian authorities and media regularly accuse Estonia and Latvia of anti-Russian discrimination. [ [ Russia and the Baltic States: Not a Case of "Flawed" History] ] [Postimees 25 July 2007: [ Naši suvelaagrit «ehib» Hitleri vuntsidega Paeti kujutav plakat] ] One of the most common claims is about citizenship discrimination."Law Assembly": [ The policy of discrimination of the national minorities in Latvia and Estonia] ] [Postimees July 30, 2007: [ Venemaa süüdistas Eestit taas natsismi toetamises] ] [ [ Russia and the Baltic States: Not a Case of "Flawed" History] by Mikhail Demurin, a long-time diplomat of USSR and later Russian Federation, printed in Russia in Global Affairs] Upon the breakup of the Soviet Union, Estonia and Latvia restored the pre-occupation citizenship laws and citizenship criteria, and Latvia made a special amendment for naturalisation procedures, granting citizenship also to all persons born after re-establishment of independence in 1991. [Latvian Naturalization Board: [ The Main Facts from the History of the Naturalization Board] ] Majority of residents in both countries, including a significant number of ethnic Russians whose ancestors were citizens of the pre-war republics, became recognised as citizens. On the other hand, the people who had immigrated during the Soviet times and their descendants did not automatically become citizens, but received permanent or long-term residence permits and could apply for naturalisation. [ [ Aliens Act of Estonia] ] [ [ Citizenship Act of Estonia] ] While most of these immigrant families were Russophone, a significant portion were not necessarily ethnic Russian. The Russian Federation has presented this as evidence of anti-Russian discrimination by Estonian and Latvian authorities. [Baltic Security and NATO Enlargement. Number 57, December 1995 - [ Retrieved on April 19, 2007] ]

Estonia and Latvia have plans to move towards bilingual secondary education with the stated goal of improving the Russophone students' skill of the state languages. [Estonian Minister of Education and Research: [ 2007. aasta ülemineku tutvustus] , an overview of the transition programme and related changes to be enacted from September 2007] [ [ Minority Education in Latvia] ] Eventually 40% of the curriculum time is to be taught in minority languages. The transition does not concern primary education (grades 1–9). In Latvia, public Russophone protests occurred in 2004, and Russian media portrayed the events as banning Russian-language education in Latvia. [Komsomolskaya Pravda - Hands off Russian Schools - [ Retrieved on 4 February 2007] ]

The consequences of World War II for the Baltic countries have been a controversial issue and one that remains a high point in the society of the Baltic states.Fact|date=November 2007 The Latvian president Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, who, in a televised interview, when questioned about the Soviet World War II veterans, remarked: "Of course we cannot change the opinion of those elderly Russians, who on May 9 (Victory Day as celebrated by Russians) will strip vobla on a newspaper, drink vodka and sing chastushki, whilst recalling how they heroically conquered the Baltic countries"." [ _ru. [ Вобла, водка и частушки] website, 2 February 2005] . A similar controversy erupted during the movement and grave excavation near the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn memorial, which was seen as deliberate provocation by Russia and local Russians.


According to recent polls 62% of Finnish citizens have a negative view of Russia. The main reasons are general distrust of major powers in world politics (in the same poll 56% of Finns have a negative view of United States), historically rooted antipathy and cultural isolationFact|date=February 2008.

The most commonly quoted reason is bitterness over the wars and territores that were ceded to the Soviet Union after the Winter War and Continuation WarFact|date=February 2008. These wars caused some 430 000 people, mainly Karelians to be Internally displaced as they moved from these territories to inside the new borders of Finland. Anti-Russian sentiment was usually strong among those who had left their homesFact|date=February 2008.

A related reason is a backlash from Soviet attempts and attempts of individual Finns to affect Finnish internal affairs to the benefit of Soviet Union during the era of finlandization.

Another contributing reason to anti-Russian sentiment is the strong influence of Swedish culture in Finland dating back to ca 1249Fact|date=February 2008. Swedish had been the administrative language of Finland since the 13th century and continued to be so even after Finland was incorporated into the Russian Czar's empire as the Grand Duchy of Finland following the Finnish War between Sweden and Russia. The influence of the Russian language on common Finnish people remained rather minimal as the fairly small number of Russian administrative officials residing in Finland mingled almost exclusively with the Swedish-speaking upper class. Since Finland was an autonomous Grand Duchy, common Russians could not pass the border and as a result there was almost no Russian migration to Finland during this period.

Last decade of Czarist period there was attempt for Russification of Finland . Northwest Russian regions, such as Ingria , used to have population ethnically related to Finnish people. All of these people are know practically disappeared because of Russification and oppression, contributing to Anti-Russian sentiments in Finland.

Also, most of the early nationalist poets and novelists in Finland, such as the Johan Ludvig Runeberg were Swedish-speaking caused that a large part of 19th text century literature was simultaneously Finnish nationalist, Pro-Swedish and Anti-Russian.Fact|date=August 2008 The cultural isolation of Finland and Russia as well as the Anti-Russian sentiment spread through literature were further amplified by the russification measures imposed on Finland 1899-1917 by Czar Nikolai II, which met considerable resistance from both fennoman and svecoman-aligned citizens.

A cultural barrier still remains between Finland and Russia, partially due to negative popular sentiment towards Russian peopleFact|date=February 2008, partially due to negative sentimets towards Finnish in RussiaFact|date=February 2008 and partially due to linguistic reasons. Finnish is a Fenno-Ugric language and Swedish is a Germanic language while Russian is a Slavic language hence the languages are fundamentally different languages, which might be an obstacle to learning Russian.Fact|date=August 2008


Most Japanese interaction with Russian individuals -besides in major cities such as Tokyo- happens with seamen and fishermen of the Russian fishing fleet, therefore Japanese people tend to carry the stereotypes associated with sailors over to Russians. [ [ Otaru onsen lawsuit, hearing 7: oral testimonies by the plaintiffs] , March 11, 2002, Sapporo district court] [Jon Letman March 31, 2000: [ Russian visitors boiling over Japanese bathhouses] ] According to a report by the Cabinet in Japan, the percentage of Japanese who dislike Russia is 15%. (Japanese dislike towards China is 35%, South Korea 20%, and North Korea 80%.) In the report it is forecast that Japanese Anti-Russian sentiment is decreasing. [ [:ja:中央調査社] 中央調査報(No.575)より(世論調査分析)日本人の「好きな国・嫌いな国」 [] ]


Russian officials claim that negative feelings towards Russia are widespread in Poland.
The New York Times reported after the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza that Gleb Pavlovsky, an advisor to President of Russia Vladimir Putin, complained during his 2005 visit to Warsaw that "Poles talk about Russians the way anti-Semites talk about Jews." [ "After Centuries of Enmity, Relations Between Poland and Russia Are as Bad as Ever"] ( [ free text] )] Poland's foreign minister Adam Rotfeld thinks that Russian politicians are "looking for an enemy and…find it in Poland.".

According to Boris Makarenko, deputy director of a Moscow-based think tank Center for Political Technologies, anti-Russian sentiments have existed in Poland for more than 200 years. He said that much of the anti-Russian feelings in Poland is caused by grievances of the past. Radio Free Europe. Eastern Europe: [ Russian-Polish Tensions Rise Over Attack On Russian Children In Warsaw] , by Valentinas Mite. 3 August 2005; last accessed on 14 July 2007] The most contentious issue is the massacre of 22,000 Polish officers, priests and intellectuals in Katyn Forest in 1940. [The Saint Petersburg Times. Lingering Bitterness Over May 9. 26 April 2005. [ retrieved on 14 July 2007] ] "It is easy to understand why, and I am not going to defend Russia either for three divisions of Poland [at the end of the 18 century] or many other [unjust things done to Poland] . These anti-Russian sentiments resurfaced in the recent decade and there are many examples of that." Makarenko said. He also noted that Poland had criticized Russia’s stance on human rights or press freedom, and had clashed with Russia over the Orange Revolution events in Ukraine.Fact|date=August 2008

Jakub Boratyński, the director of international programs at the independent Polish think tank Stefan Batory Foundation, said that anti-Russian feelings have substantially decreased since Poland joined the EU and NATO, and that Poles feel more secure than before, but he also admitted that many people in Poland still look suspiciously at Russian foreign-policy moves and are afraid Russia is seeking to "recreate an empire in a different form."

The analysts wealagree that most of the current Poland-Russia disagreements are related to politics and the new role Poland is playing in the region, rather than the history of both countries.Fact|date=August 2008


A mild form of Russophobia is relatively widespread in the Romanian society.Fact|date=August 2008 This can be seen as a reaction of both the Soviet times and of pre-Soviet Russian imperialism which affected the Romanian Principalities. Russia's annexation of Bassarabia and Bukovina in 1812 and again in 1940 is widely seen as an expression of Russian's imperialism. Negative reports on modern Russia are widespread in the media.Fact|date=August 2008 There is a general negative perception of all things Russian especially in what concerns the language and the culture.Fact|date=August 2008


Universities in Turkmenistan have been encouraged to reject applicants with non-Turkmen surnames, especially ethnic Russians. [ [ Turkmenistan: Russian Students Targeted] by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting16 July 2003]


Sentiment towards Russia in Ukraine varies throughout the country. Among those living in the South and East of the country many would like to see a more Russophile attitude of the government, ranging from closer economic partnership to full national union with Russia. [ [ Yedinoye Otechestvo] - United country ]

According to a long-term survey by Institute of Sociology of National Academy of Science of Ukraine, the overall population of the country, excluding the Ukrainians from diaspora, has a on average similar attitude towards Russians as towards ethnic Ukrainians. [Паніна Н. В. Українське суспільство 1994—2005: соціологічний моніторинг — Київ: ТОВ «Видавництво Софія», 2005. — с. 67.] On the other hand, the 2000 survey of the Lviv Oblast showed that the population of the region has a more negative attitude towards Russia (20%) (cf. 23% of negative attitude towards Ukraine in Russia [ ru icon] ) than to other countries. [Львівщина на порозі XXI століття. Соціальний портрет. (Колективна монографія). (С. А. Давимука, А. Ф. Колодій, Ю. А. Кужелюк, В. М. Подгорнов, Н. Й. Черниш) Львів. 2001. С. 228.] Another survey showed that in 2005, compared to the rest of the population, the population of Western Ukraine, Kiev and Kiev Oblast had a less positive attitude towards Russia. [ ru icon ] The ultra-right-wing radical nationalist political party "Svoboda", ["Tiahnybok considers 'Svoboda' as the only right-wing party in Ukraine", "Hazeta po-ukrainsky", 06.08.2007. [ Russian edition] , [ Ukrainian edition] ] [ Ukraine's orange-blue divide | ] ] [ David Duke makes repeat visit to controversial Kyiv university] Kyiv Post] marginal on the national scale, [0.36% of electoral support in the 2005 elections to Verkhovna Rada. Source [] often invokes the radical Russophobic rhetoric (see poster) and has sufficient electoral support to form factions in several municipal and provincial local councils in Western UkraineFact|date=June 2008.

After Viktor Yanukovych promised to make Russian an official language of Ukraine in his 2004 presidential campaign, a group of twelve Ukrainophone writers supporting Viktor Yushchenko wrote an open letter claiming that "Yanukovych promises to give the language of low-standard pop music and thieves' cant the absurd status of a 'second official language'". [uk icon] [ru icon] Later, one of the writers explained that the phrase "the language of low-standard pop music and thieves'" does not refer to Russian language, but rather to the slang spoken by "a certain political force". He also pointed out that they were trying to defend the rights of Russian-speaking people in Ukraine to have a "true Russian culture". [uk icon] Viktor Yushchenko expressed his gratitude for the support and respect to the group of writers. [uk icon]

United States

Most anti-Russian attitudes in the United States and in American media were formed as a result of the Cold War, expectations of a nuclear war with Soviet Union, and the conflation of the Soviet Union with RussiaFact|date=July 2007, as expressed in the phrase "The Russians are coming".Or|date=August 2008

While Russophobia was prevalent in the United States during much of the Cold War, it was arguedWho|date=July 2007 that it may have been at its hottest after the shootdown of KAL 007 and the death of 63 Americans at the hands of a Soviet fighter pilot. While South Korea had led most anti-Soviet protests in the wake of the shootdown, some protests were seen in the US as well with some Americans picketing holding signs reading "Kill Yuri Andropov",Fact|date=July 2007 and later criticized President Ronald Reagan for being too forgiving to the Soviets about the affair. Many films and TV shows had played out this attitude, such as Red Dawn, Rocky IV, Red Scorpion, , Rambo III and Amerika.Or|date=September 2007

In the mid of 2006, the State Department of the United States cancelled Russian businessman Oleg Deripaska’s multiple-entry visa claiming that Oleg Deripaska was not being candid with them about his past business dealings. The visa cancellation occurred in the United States amid rising concerns and calls for counter efforts about Russian businessmen and companies attempts to enhance their economic and political clout in the West. [Wall Street Journal online. Candor Concerns Spurred U.S. To Pull Russian Magnate's Visa. 19 April 2007. [ retrieved on 14 July 2007] ]


In May and June 2006, Russian media cited discrimination against Russian companies as one possible reason why the contemplated merger between the Luxembourg-based steelmaker "Arcelor" and Russia's "Severstal" did not finalize. According to the Russian daily Izvestiya, those opposing the merge "exploited the 'Russian threat' myth during negotiations with shareholders and, apparently, found common ground with the Europeans", [ [ Как закалялась "Северсталь"] , by Izvestija 26 June 2006] while Boris Gryzlov, speaker of the State Duma observed that "recent events show that someone does not want to allow us to enter their markets." [ _ru. [ Председатель Госдумы Борис Грызлов, комментируя пропагандистскую кампанию против слияния российской "Северстали" и европейской "Arcelor", заявил, что Россию не хотят пускать на мировые рынки] , by Rossijskaya Gazeta 27 June 2006] On 27 July 2006, the New York Times quoted the analysts as saying that many Western investors still think that anything to do with Russia is "a little bit doubtful and dubious" while others look at Russia in "comic book terms, as mysterious and mafya-run." [ [ Russian Politicians See Russophobia in Arcelor's Decision to Go With Mittal Steel] , by the New York Times 27 July 2006]

However, the same article also quoted Aleksandr Temerko, a former vice president of YUKOS, the company which was broken up and sold off by the Russian government, saying that Western investors should treat take-overs by Russian companies with suspicion: "What if tomorrow they decide to grab Mordashov [the oligarch in charge of Severstal] and force him to sell his stock to a state company?... Then some K.G.B. agent will show up at Arcelor and say, 'I'm your new partner'.... Political motives are real; they exist.... Investors are right to fear them." " Some Russian activists who are against the greater political control associated with the rule of Putin and the United Russia Party are still disappointed by such Western repulsion, however, as a lack of foreign economic presence and investment is, in their view, one of the reasons "why" the new government and the KGB can so easily interfere in business and economics. Arcelor shareholders themselves portrayed their doubts about Severstal's bid very differently, and completely unrelated to stereotypes of Russian business practice: they were worried about the manner in which the bid was being presented to them by the Arcelor management, who were in favour of the take-over, and the degree of personal control Mr. Mordashov would have over the new company. [ [,,1799926,00.html Rebel investors gear up to sink Russian takeover of Arcelor] , by The Observer 18 June 2006]

View of Russia in Western media

Some Russian and Western commentators express concern about too negative coverage of Russia in Western media (some Russians even describe it as "informational war") [ [ "Pravda" on Potomac] , by Edward Lozansky, Johnson's Russia List, December 2005] [ [ Why are the American media, both liberal and conservative, so unanimously anti-Russian?] , by Ira Straus, Johnson's Russia List, January 2005] [ru icon [ Western Media "put" Russia "to the place"] , by km.Ru, June 2007] . In April 2007 David Johnson, founder of the Johnson's Russia List, said in interview to the Moscow News: "I am sympathetic to the view that these days Putin and Russia are perhaps getting too dark a portrayal in most Western media. Or at least that critical views need to be supplemented with other kinds of information and analysis. An openness to different views is still warranted." [ [ Interview with David Johnson] by the Moscow News, April 2007]

In 1995, years before Putin was elected to his first term, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported: "coverage of Russia and its president, Boris Yeltsin, was decidedly negative, even though national polls continue to find the public feeling positive toward Russia and largely uncritical of Yeltsin." [ [ 1995 report of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press] ]

In February 2007 Russian creativity agency E-generator composed "rating of Russophobia" of Western media, using for the research articles concerning a single theme — Russia's chairmanship of G8, translated into Russian by InoSmi.Ru. The score was composed for each edition, negative values granted for negative assessments of Russia, and positive values representing positive ones. The top in the rating were Newsday (-43, U.S.), The Financial Times (-34, Great Britain), The Wall Street Journal (-34, U.S.), Le Monde (-30, France), while editions on the opposite side of the rating were Toronto Star (+27, Canada) and The Conservative Voice (+26, U.S.) [ru icon [ Rating of Russophoby] , by E-generator, February 2007]

Various post-Soviet ethnic-based organized crime groups such as Armenian, Azerbaijani, Chechen, Georgian and Kazakh are often referred to as "Russian Mafia" in Western media.Fact|date=August 2008

ee also

*List of anti-ethnic and anti-national terms



*pl icon/ru icon ed. [ Jerzy Faryno] , Roman Bobryk, "Polacy w oczach Rosjan - Rosjanie w oczach Polaków. Поляки глазами русских - русские глазами поляков. Zbiór studiów" - conference proceedings; in "Studia Litteraria Polono-Slavica"; Slawistyczny Ośrodek Wydawniczy Instytutu Slawistyki Polskiej Akademii Nauk, Warszawa 2000, ISBN 83-86619-93-7.

External links

* [ The Genesis of Russophobia in Great Britain]
* [ Anatol Lieven, "Against Russophobia"] , World Policy Journal, Volume XVII, No 4, Winter 2000/01; a review of a modern Russophobia in international politics.
*New York Times " [ After Centuries of Enmity, Relations Between Poland and Russia Are as Bad as Ever] ", July 3, 2005 (subscription may be required for full text)
* [ Sergei Yastrzhembsky: Russophobia Still Rampant]
* [ More Russophobia in International Press]
* [ Corruption, Russophobia Weigh on Poland]
* [ Finnish Russophobia: The Story of an Enemy Image]

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