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United States Once Again Russia's Worst Enemy

Demonstrators stand outside the Moscow office of the Golos election-monitoring NGO, with one sign branding the group a U.S. agent.
According to a poll conducted by Russia's independent Levada Center, the United States is now the country considered by the greatest number of Russians to be an enemy of their country.

Asked to list the five countries they considered to be hostile or unfriendly to Russia, 38 percent included the United States on the list, followed by Georgia at 33 percent, and the three Baltic states -- Latvia at 21 percent, Lithuania at 17 percent, and Estonia at 16 percent.

Georgia and the United States actually swapped positions from the same survey a year earlier, when Georgia led with 41 percent to Washington's 35. What's clear is how Georgia's rate of inclusion on the enemies list has slowly come down following the 2008 war with Russia over South Ossetia, from a high of 60 percent in May 2009. Georgia appears to be gradually coming to some sort of terms with its big neighbor.

The United States' rise in the poll is somewhat predictable, given the recent frostiness in relations with Moscow over the U.S. Magnitsky Act and the Russian ban on U.S. citizens from adoptions.

What's interesting, though, is that when asked for their general feeling about the United States, 51 percent responded "very good" or "generally good." This is slightly down from the 54 percent of similar responses in May of 2012 and 2011.

And which countries do Russians see as their allies? Leading in the "most friendly" hit parade for the fifth year running is Alyaksandr Lukashenka's Belarus, with a full 46 percent of respondents including it on their list. After that comes Kazakhstan, China, Ukraine, and Germany, among all of the countries.

The survey was conducted on May 23-27 from a representative sample of 1,601 people across Russia, according to the Levada Center.

-- Dan Wisniewski

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