RUSSIAN YOUTH ABOUT RUSSIA, UKRAINE, AND BELARUS — IMAGES OF COUNTRIES AND PEOPLES
Keywords:Russian youth, images of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Young people's perception of people and power, psychological testing, sociological approach to the study of ethnic issues in a socio-political context
The main goal of the present examination was to study the ideas of the Russian youth about Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus under existing social and political conditions. To this end, in 2018-2020, in a number of Moscow universities, sociological research was carried out, studying the images of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus as perceived by Russian students. As far back as 30 years ago, the Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians had been perceived as three tight-knit ethnic groups within a broader category of East Slavs, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union, three independent states were formed, whose fates began to develop in different ways. At the present time complicated by all sorts of political controversies between the three countries under consideration, it seems important to know how these countries, their leaders, and peoples appear to the young people of Russia, what their attitude is to certain significant recent political events, namely the events in Ukraine, and to the opposition movement in their own country. The main research method was a sociological survey plus a certain amount of psychological testing. In total, 600 people were interviewed in several major universities in Moscow. The materials were then processed using the SPSS computer program. Also, the students were asked to present their perceptions of the country, its people, and its leadership in drawings, making the images as emblematic as possible. The results of the study showed that despite the difficult socio-political situation, Russian youth demonstrate a rather positive attitude towards their own country and its leadership; they regret the conflict in Ukraine, sympathize with its people, and condemn the ongoing civil war in the east of the country. Russians perceive Belarus as a friendly country with which it is necessary to strengthen cooperation. The research materials may be useful to specialists dealing with the ethnic issues in the three countries and with their political, economic, and cultural construction.
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