Over half of Russians consider the U.S. a country hostile towards Russia (52%), although every third Russian believes that the U.S. is a friendly country (32%). These figures were released by the Public Opinion Foundation on Thursday as the results of a nation-wide poll of 1,500 respondents conducted February 17. The respondents were asked the following open-ended question: "When you hear the words “the United States of America,” what comes to mind?" Most respondents (26%) said their first associations were those of a developed economy and a high standard of living. Many fewer mentioned the role the U.S. plays in the world: 5% of those polled called the U.S. a "superpower" and another 5% "an international gendarme" that wants to "get the entire world under its control." Another 16% revealed even more negative associations. Those respondents said they saw the U.S. as "Russia's enemy," a country where "psychologically primitive" "zombies" lived. Among the most frequently named associations named by this group of respondents were the words "illiterate," "chronic absence of culture," "drug abuse, sex," "crime," "organized crime," "shooting, killings, rape." Twenty percent of those polled said they were well disposed towards the U.S. and respected the country, and some even said they admired it. This group of respondents associate the U.S. with "true democracy," "freedom," "observance of human rights," "respect for people." It is a state whose citizens "have confidence in tomorrow" and where "law and order" prevail. It is a country of great possibilities," "an example for everyone," "a dream country" in which "one would like to live," they said, according to Interfax.
On December 14, President Putin holds his annual Q&A session with Russian and foreign journalists. This conference is considered to be the beginning of his presidential campaign