Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto through Getty Photographs
For the reason that starting of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, public opinion polls have proven Russians overwhelmingly supporting the motion, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has known as a “particular navy operation.”
The polls present help starting from 58% to 80% – however my statistical evaluation of polling knowledge reveals that help would possibly rely on which media sources Russians get their info from.
The principle information supply for almost all of Russians is government-run tv stations. In April, 67% of Russians reported that their predominant information supply was tv, in keeping with the Levada Middle, an unbiased polling institute in Russia.
Russian TV viewers see information packages presenting a single viewpoint – the federal government’s – and claiming the Ukrainian navy is killing Ukrainian civilians and destroying Ukrainian cities, whereas additionally claiming the Russia navy is struggling no losses and harmless of any alleged warfare crimes.
Those that get their information from Telegram, a web-based, unbiased social media app, see completely different viewpoints – together with the London-based BBC Information in Russian, in addition to fringe conspiracies just like the Russian department of QAnon. My evaluation reveals these Russians, who get a extra numerous media weight loss plan on their smartphones, usually tend to oppose the warfare than those that get their information solely from TV.
A web based info platform
Telegram permits customers to create private and non-private teams the place everybody can put up all forms of content material or a channel for a single person to put up one-way communication in a feed.
Telegram claims to be a safe platform the place encryption and cloud storage make it tough for authorities to establish the one that posted a message. This excessive degree of anonymity makes Telegram helpful for teams combating oppression, like pro-democracy opposition teams in Russia, Iran and South Korea. It’s additionally helpful for extremists and terrorists, just like the white nationalism teams and QAnon and different conspiracy-theory believers who’ve used it.
In March 2022, possible due to its relative privateness and safety, Telegram grew to become the most well-liked messaging platform in Russia. Its recognition grew even stronger after Russia banned Fb, Twitter and Instagram, and after TikTok shut its Russian operations within the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.
Based on an evaluation by Time journal, the variety of subscribers to Russian-language information channels on Telegram grew from 16 million to 24 million within the month after the invasion.
Public opinion polling
After Putin introduced the invasion of Ukraine, public help for the navy operation and the president grew.
It may be arduous to precisely measure public opinion in authoritarian regimes, as a result of persons are reluctant to precise views the federal government won’t approve of. In Russia after the invasion, that process grew to become much more tough, due to a brand new legislation punishing individuals who unfold no matter the federal government determines to be “pretend information” – together with unfavorable details or opinions in regards to the navy motion in Ukraine.
However it’s clear that each ballot, whether or not government-sponsored or unbiased, exhibits a excessive degree of public help for the motion in Ukraine.
Amongst them, I recognized one ballot that confirmed some extra info that proved enlightening. A late March ballot by the unbiased agency Russian Area requested its nationally consultant pattern of greater than 1,000 respondents not whether or not they supported the navy’s operation in Ukraine, however one thing simply barely completely different: “When you may journey in time, would you’ve got modified the choice in regards to the begin of the particular navy operation on Ukraine?”
This prevented immediately asking about their help or opposition to a authorities motion, and delivered info different polls missed.
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Info weight loss plan issues
About 66% of the respondents to the Russian Area ballot stated they’d not have modified the choice about invading Ukraine, even when given the facility to take action. That matches with the general development of huge public help for Putin’s warfare.
However the ballot additionally requested respondents to call their major supply of data, and that’s the place I discovered new insights. Not surprisingly, many of the respondents received their info from tv. The subsequent hottest sources talked about have been the web usually, and Telegram, in that order, however very shut collectively within the rating.
The group that used Telegram was extra possible than TV viewers to say they’d change the choice about invading.
The distinction shouldn’t be massive; nevertheless, it’s vital from a statistical viewpoint. And it stayed statistically vital even after accounting for variations within the respondents’ genders, revenue and ages.
This discovering is in step with the outcomes of an analogous evaluation I did on completely different knowledge from a survey in early March: Russian Telegram customers usually tend to oppose the warfare than Russian TV viewers. Sadly, in newer surveys unbiased analysis companies haven’t requested about respondents’ media sources, although I’m maintaining an eye fixed open to see if any future surveys do.
Ekaterina Romanova doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.