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Tags: russia | putin | anti-american | obama | ukraine

WaPo: Anti-American Feelings in Russia at Historic High

By    |   Monday, 09 March 2015 12:28 PM EDT

Russia's anti-American sentiment is at levels not seen at any time since the Stalin era, according to observers, and a new study reveals that more than 80 percent of Russians hold a negative view of the United States.

The country's indignation has been growing for some time, reports The Washington Post, and was further stoked after rumors started concerning the assassination of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov. Conspiracy theorists have been saying that he was killed through the CIA in a plot to discredit Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin.

Two men from Chechnya have been charged in Nemtsov's death and three others have been detained, but still, the assassination is the latest event to display Russia's anger against the West. Nemtsov's death marked the highest-profile political killing to take place during Putin's 15-year reign, and the death of a protester whose role models were Western politicians.

According to the independent Levada Center, 80 percent of Russians now say they view the United States negatively, the highest negative rating for the U.S. since the center began tracking such views in 1988.

Already, efforts are being made in Russia to move away from Western brands of clothing, soft drinks and more.

And news of sanctions and rumors of conspiracies that blame Washington for unrest in Ukraine and Russia is further stoking Russians' anger.

Tensions are also high between President Barack Obama and Putin over Ukraine following Russia's annexation of Crimea last year and its support for separatists in that country's east.

U.S.-led sanctions have helped push the Russian economy toward recession, further souring relations, and the anger could grow if Obama decides to send weapons to the Ukrainian military, reports The Post.

And with Russia's national television channels, where 90 percent of the country's residents get their news, spreading more anti-Washington reports, anti-American sentiment is continuing to grow even stronger.

Journalist Vladimir Pozner, who has been a powerful voice for the former Soviet Union, told The Post that perceived humiliations have "led to anti-Americanism at the grass-roots level, which did not exist before." Now, inside Russia, he said, "we don’t like the Americans, and it’s because they’re pushy, they think they’re unique and they have had no regard for anyone else."

Evidence of the dislike ranges from Crimean coffee shops that are not serving Americans to an instance where activists projected racially insulting images of Obama eating a banana onto the side wall of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

"This anti-Western propaganda radically changed the atmosphere in the society," said Lev Gudkov, the director of the Levada Center. "It has become militarist."

Russians are also feeling resentful after modeling themselves on the West after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

"Starting from about 1989, we completely reoriented toward the West," said Evgeny Tarlo, a member of Russia's upper House of Parliament, last year. "We looked at them as a future paradise." But instead, the West has been trying to destroy Russia, he said.

Western diplomats are saying that they are being blocked from speaking engagements, and Russians who work for Western-based companies say their friends and neighbors are questioning their patriotism.

McDonald's, once popular for its connections to the West, saw some of its most prominent restaurants closed in the fall for health violations, reports The Post.

When they reopened, the company launched an advertising campaign emphasizing its 25-year history in Russia, including a billboard in Moscow that proclaims McDonald's products are "made in Russia, for Russians."

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Russia's anti-American sentiment is at levels not seen at any time since the Stalin era, according to observers, and a new study reveals that more than 80 percent of Russians hold a negative view of the United States.
russia, putin, anti-american, obama, ukraine
Monday, 09 March 2015 12:28 PM
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