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Russian image has deteriorated - BBC World Service poll

  • 4 June 2014
  • From the section World
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Armed Russian servicemen stand guard as Russian tanks arrive at a train station in the Crimean settlement of Gvardeiskoye
The polling period mostly pre-dated Russia's annexation of Crimea

People's views of Russia have strongly deteriorated since last year, according to the latest 24-country poll for the BBC World Service.

The poll, which was mostly conducted before the crisis in Crimea, showed people were more negative about Russia in the past year than they had been at any time since the poll began in 2005.

It also found that views of the US and the EU had worsened.

But Germany has kept its position as the most positively viewed country.

Iran and North Korea attracted the most negative ratings.

The Country Ratings Poll of 24 nations was conducted by GlobeScan/Pipa.

Between December 2013 and April 2014, a total of 24,542 people were asked to rate 16 countries and the EU on whether their influence in the world was "mostly positive" or "mostly negative."

Negative views of Russia now average 45% across the countries polled. They largely outweigh positive views (31%), and have gone up four points since 2013.

The worsening opinion of Russia is a general trend, but is particularly marked in Kenya (up 16 points), Spain (up 15 points), Brazil (up 13 points) and Canada (up 12 points).

Views of the US have deteriorated among citizens of Spain (where negative views are up 19 points), Germany (up 18 points) and Brazil (up 15 points).

GlobeScan's Lionel Bellier added: "It is probably not a coincidence that the nations that showed the sharpest increases in negative views of the United States - Spain, Germany, and Brazil - are ones where extensive US surveillance activity has been discovered and widely criticised."

Perceptions of the EU are at their worst globally since the poll began. In Spain, Germany and France, negative ratings of the EU have increased by 19, 10, and 7 points respectively.

Meanwhile, 60% of people polled gave Germany a positive rating.

Analysis by Emily Buchanan, BBC News

Views of Russia have continued to deteriorate amongst people across all continents. The survey was taken in the year building up to events in Crimea, so it's not surprising that the most unfavourable views are found in Europe. On the other hand, Chinese opinions of Russia have warmed considerably.

The reputation of the US recovered over the course of President Barack Obama's first term, but ratings have since slipped, particularly in Spain, Germany and Brazil. Researchers put this down to bad publicity over US government surveillance programmes.

Languishing at the bottom of the popularity stakes are Iran, Pakistan and North Korea - all countries with negative media images. The big question the survey raises is how far people's views are simply influenced by the tone of the coverage a nation receives.

UK 'most improved'

The UK is the country whose perceived influence in the world has most improved from 2005 to the present day.

Positive views of the UK have gone up six points, from 52% to 58% since the first poll.

Steven Kull, director of Pipa, said most of the polling took place before the crisis in Crimea, but the data collection overlapped the Sochi Olympic Games and the freeing of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the members of Pussy Riot.

"It was also a period during which Putin had pressed Ukraine to not move toward the EU, and when the first riots took place in the streets of Kiev," he said.

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