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Almost a month has passed since Hamas launched an invasion of Israel, and the world has been closely watching the evolving situation. The media from all over the world has widely covered the events, expressing differing opinions on the matter. Some have conveyed regrets to the Israeli people, while others have attempted to justify Hamas's actions.
In this report, we will overview how Russians evaluated the situation during the initial days following the attack.
Within three days following the hostile actions undertaken by Hamas against Israel, OMI conducted two distinct pieces of research to delve into the sentiment of the Russian population concerning the unfolding situation. We launched a nationwide online survey with 640 participants.
In the survey, the respondents were proposed to read the descriptions of 4 people and choose which of them they identified with the most. The existing clusters were depicted in the following way:
Cluster 1. Hawks. This person feels like a 100% Russian and is proud of it. He believes the country is moving in the right direction and fully supports the government's decisions. This person feels psychologically well. He feels no doubts within; his personal and the country's goals are aligned.
Cluster 2. Loyalists. This person identifies with Russia, but not 100%. He is inclined to support the government's actions and the course of the country's development, but he is not entirely sure this is the best way. Although he trusts the Russian media, he also prefers to read alternative publications.
Cluster 3. Moderates. This person is less willing to identify oneself with Russia. He believes that things in Russia are not going well and the country is rather moving in the wrong direction. However, he is personally inclined not to show his position in public; he does not believe that his actions can change anything. Therefore, he is primarily passive in social and political processes, such as elections, demonstrations, etc., and is more interested in his personal life.
Cluster 4. Liberals. This person does not want to associate himself with modern Russia and the ruling regime, which he absolutely does not trust. He believes that the government is leading Russia in a destructive way. This person is looking for information from sources that have nothing to do with the Russian authorities. This person shows his position and is ready to defend it if possible.
The names of the segments were not visible to the respondents. We mentioned them now to refresh the readers' memory and simplify understanding of the results.
We also analyzed Russians’ reactions to the escalation in Israel on social media (VK, OK and Telegram among others), utilizing sentiment analysis to examine comments and posts.
Data collection involved specific keywords such as "Israel," "Judaism," "Jews," "Israelis," augmented by contextual keywords that represent both support and opposition to the country in the context of the current war. Sentiment scores, ranging from -1 to 1 (higher values indicating more positive sentiment), were categorized by societal clusters. The study also considers data volume, representing the number of comments or posts on the matter.
Many Russian regime Loyalists and Hawks have taken to social media to mockingly emphasize the irony of Russians who emigrated to Israel following Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
In a survey, 77% of them partly or fully agreed that those emigrants are betrayers who got what they deserved.
Conversely, Liberals and Moderates in Russian society expressed condolences to the Russian community in Israel in their online comments.
It is important to acknowledge that the clustering of the Russian population concerning the war in Ukraine does not entirely align with their perspectives on the conflict in Israel. Consequently, when reviewing user comments from all clusters, we observe a spectrum of opinions, encompassing support for both Israel and Hamas militants.
Notably, among the Liberal segment, there is a greater tendency to characterize Hamas militants as terrorists, whereas Moderates and Loyalists exhibit less stringent characterizations of them and Palestinians fighting against Israel. Among pro-government clusters, a significantly larger portion spreads the opinion that Palestinians have the right to resist the occupation of their territories.
Individuals who do not express support for Israel often contend that Palestinians have the right to reclaim their territory from Israel. Simultaneously, some Palestinian supporters express disapproval of the methods employed by Hamas and the suffering endured by the civilian population of Israel.
Respondents believe that Hamas's attack on Israel could influence the Russian-Ukrainian war, with Hawks and Loyalists anticipating a potential reduction in Western weapon supplies to Ukraine.
Many pro-government Russians celebrated the shift of attention from Ukraine to Israel, suggesting that the United States might struggle to provide sufficient aid to both states simultaneously.
Approximately one-fourth of Liberals and nearly the same proportion of Loyalists anticipate a reduction in the supply of Iranian weapons to Russia. The moderate segment comprises the majority of those agreeing that Iranian supplies will decrease.
42% of all survey participants, irrespective of their political views, agreed that a new phase in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict significantly heightens the risk of a World War III outbreak.
Quotes like, "Iran is seeking confrontation with Israel and the United States. Russia's success in Ukraine is prompting Iran to reverse decades of hostile the US foreign policy in the Middle East," attributed to Kim Dotcom, were circulated by several Loyalist channels. These channels sought to portray Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a success while positioning the country as anti-colonial.
The diverse reactions of different Russian political clusters to the recent escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Russo-Ukrainian war underscore the complexity and variability of public opinion in Russia.
While Loyalists and Hawks mock Russian community in Israel and anticipate a reduction in Western support to Ukraine, Liberals and Moderates express sympathy and concern about potential global escalation.
The portrayal of Russia's actions as anti-colonial and successful further indicates an attempt by some to manipulate narratives to fit specific political agendas.
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