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Russians More Negative Towards Ukraine, Poll Says

Russians are expressing more negative attitudes toward Ukraine, the European Union and the United States, а recent public opinion poll found.

Taken before former Ukrainian president and Russia ally Viktor Yanukovych left office in the face of rising violence between anti-government protesters and police, a Levada Center poll conducted in late January showed that 66 percent of Russians have positive feelings for Ukraine, down from 74 percent in January 2013. Negative feelings have risen from 18 percent to 26 percent over the same time period.

Russians' positive feelings towards Ukraine have fluctuated around 70 percent after rebounding from the Russia-Ukraine gas disputes in early 2009, when only 29 percent of Russians thought well of their western neighbors.

Four percent of respondents in the January 2014 poll characterized Russia-Ukrainian relations as friendly while 10 percent described them as "neighborly." Just less than one-third of respondents said that relations were "cool," 21 percent said they were "tense" and 4 percent said that there was hostility between Moscow and Kiev.

Declining opinion of Ukraine mirrored more negative feelings toward the United States and the European Union. The share of Russians expressing positive attitudes towards the U.S. dropped from 53 percent to 43 percent in the past year while the same measure fell from 64 percent to 51 percent for the EU. Both the U.S. and the EU saw 14 percent point jumps in the number of respondents who thought their relations with Russia were "cool."

Levada Center surveyed 1,603 respondents in 45 regions across Russia between Jan. 24 and Jan. 27 for the poll, which carried a 3.4 percent margin of error.

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