One third of Slovaks believe the West provoked the war in Ukraine

A recent survey suggests that trust in pro-Kremlin claims is linked with fondness towards Russia.

A man walks with his dog near an apartment building damaged by shelling from fighting on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, in territory under control of the separatist government of the Donetsk People's Republic.A man walks with his dog near an apartment building damaged by shelling from fighting on the outskirts of Mariupol, Ukraine, in territory under control of the separatist government of the Donetsk People's Republic. (Source: AP/SITA)

More than 30 percent of people in Slovakia believe that the war in Ukraine was deliberately provoked by the West, and Russia only responded to this provocation.

At the same time, 22 percent of people trust in the pro-Kremlin narratives apologising for and defending the involvement of Russian troops in Ukraine, while this trust depends on a respective claim.

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This stems from a recent poll carried out by the Institute of Experimental Psychology of the Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences, part of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV), between March 22 and 24 on 900 respondents.

Age and sex do not play a role

Respondents least trusted the claims that the war in Ukraine is fake and there are paid actors and actresses in the pictures (11 percent) or that Ukraine is developing nuclear or other radioactive weapons (13 percent), said Jakub Šrol of the institute.

Fear of coronavirus fades as people focus on inflation and war Read more 

“Conversely, more than one quarter of people believe the repeated news about Russia using military intervention in Ukraine to disarm and de-Nazify Ukraine (28 percent); that the war in Ukraine was deliberately provoked by the West and Russia merely responded to this provocation (34 percent); or that the Russian minorities in eastern Ukraine were facing genocide (27 percent),” he added, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

The preliminary analyses suggest that factors like age and sex did not play any significant role in trusting pro-Kremlin narratives.

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As for education, the trust in pro-Russian propaganda is slightly higher in the case of people who solely have secondary or lower education, but Šrol said this is no significant factor. Not just people with lower education or without analytical thinking believe these narratives, he added.

Fondness towards Russia and Covid

The poll suggested that trust in pro-Russian propaganda is linked to fondness towards the country. People who believe that life in Slovakia was better during communism tend to believe these narratives as well, Šrol pointed out.

At the same time, these people prefer a society where one strong and determined authoritarian leader rules instead of a liberal democracy.

Most Slovaks blame Russia for the war (poll) Read more 

“All these results complete the well-known picture that people tend to trust information corresponding with their opinions and vision of the world and are, on the other hand, more skeptical towards news opposing their opinion,” Šrol said, as quoted by SITA.

At the same time, the researchers noticed that the trust in pro-Kremlin narratives on the war in Ukraine was higher in the case of people who believed Covid-19 conspiracy theories.

One reason for such behaviour might be that the claims are being circulated by the same information channels, for example, by the same groups and profiles on social networks, as reported by SITA.

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