HKS Authors

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How do ordinary Russians really feel about Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine? Although some suggest that the early polls—showing about 60% support for the war—can be treated as genuine signals of Russian public opinion, this article explores a number of reasons why these poll results should be treated with great caution or even discounted. These include state censorship; self-censorship and response bias; the existence of protests even in the authoritarian Russian context; and the fact that some of the early polls were asking about a hypothetical invasion that many Russians might not have given much thought. However, the article argues that the most plausible explanation for apparent initial support for the war lies in the manipulation of public opinion through state control of communication channels and the widespread use of censorship, propaganda, and disinformation at home and abroad.


Kizilova, Kseniya, and Pippa Norris. "Assessing Russian Public Opinion on the Ukraine War." Russian Analytical Digest 281.29 (29 March 2022): 2-10.