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MOSCOW, August 29 (RIA Novosti) – Though Russia’s leadership is actively involved in the geopolitical standoff over possible foreign military intervention in war-torn Syria, most of the Russian population is not paying any attention to the ongoing civil war and supports neither the Syrian government nor the armed opposition, a new poll showed.
Only 8 percent of Russians have paid close attention to the recent events in Syria, while 52 percent know “a little” about them and 39 percent know nothing at all, according to a survey whose results were released Wednesday by the independent Levada Center pollster.
Fifty-one percent of respondents said they did not support either side of the conflict, virtually no increase from a similar poll held last November.
Support for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government grew slightly, from 11 to 19 percent, while the rebels had the sympathy of 9 percent of Russians, down 2 percentage points from last fall.
The Russian public was equal parts pragmatic and apathetic on Russia’s role in the Assad regime’s standoff with Western powers, which have accused it of rights abuse since the outbreak of internal strife in 2011.
Thirty-four percent of respondents said Russia should not support either side but try to capitalize on the conflict, and the same amount of respondents had nothing to say on the issue. Twenty-one percent said Russia should support Syria, and 11 percent called for it to side with the West.
However, the number of those supporting a foreign peacekeeping intervention in Syria, like in Libya in 2011 – when NATO forces helped oust longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi – almost doubled to reach 22 percent since a similar poll in March last year. Forty percent opposed a foreign invasion of Syria, and 38 percent were undecided.
The poll was held in June among 1,600 respondents nationwide and had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.