Opposition among the Russian population to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine is at its highest level, according to one survey.
The poll by the private survey agencies Russian Field and Chronicles has given a snapshot of public opinion about what the Kremlin dubs a “special military operation” which is at odds with official Russian government polls.
On September 21 and 22, after President Vladimir Putin introduced “partial” mobilization in Russia, the agencies asked 1,000 citizens about their attitudes to the war. Another 800 people were asked about the issue on September 28 and 29.
The results found that Russian support for the war “continues to fall” and had reached “a historic minimum.” It said that the declared support for the war was just over a half, or 51 percent, compared with 55 percent in July and a high of 66 percent in April.
“The beginning of July saw a turning point in the Russians’ attitudes towards the war,” said the poll, which was also reported by independent news outlet Meduza on Monday.
The pollster said that respondents could be split into three groups. They were: loyalists who would support the authorities no matter what (eight percent), militarists (26 percent) who backed the war and would not support the withdrawal of troops without achieving set goals.
Among those who responded, 17 percent were “open pacifists”—who neither backed mobilization, nor the war and would support the withdrawal of troops and peace talks.
The poll also found that nearly three-quarters of respondents (73 percent) who said they approved of the mobilization believed that they personally would not be subject to the draft.
Newsweek has contacted Chronicles for information about the margin for error for the survey in which it issued a caveat. It said its previous studies had shown many in Russia were reluctant to share their opinions about the war out of fear for their safety.
A clampdown by the authorities since the start of the war has meant that those who oppose the Kremlin’s narrative for the war could face up to 15 years in prison. Opposition figures in Russia dismiss the prospect of any genuine public opinion being expressed in polls in a climate in which dissent is harshly punished.
However, the results differ from other polls by the Kremlin-friendly VTsIOM (The Russian Public Opinion Research Center] and FOM (The Public Opinion Research Center) which news outlet Meduza said showed between 70 and 80 percent of Russians supported the war. Even the independent Levada Center put support among Russians for the war in October at 73 percent.