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Press Releases, 9/19/2017 | Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Russians have a positive attitude towards Finland

Press release 160/2017
19 September 2017

The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Finland in Moscow commissioned a survey in summer 2017 to investigate the attitudes of Russians towards Finland. The survey was conducted by the Russian Levada Center. A total of 1,600 people from different parts of Russia responded to the survey.  This was the first time a survey of this kind has been conducted in Russia.

According to the results, more than two out of three respondents (68%) have a positive or very positive attitude towards Finland. Only 10% of respondents had a negative or very negative attitude towards Finland. Especially young people, people with a high level of education and those with a good income had a positive attitude towards Finland. The results indicated that people living in Moscow have a particularly positive attitude towards Finland (88%).

The respondents also considered relations between Finland and Russia to be good. Of the respondents, 68% considered the relations to be normal, good, peaceful or friendly, and 16% cold or tense. Only 0.2% of respondents chose the option “hostile”. Among other Western countries, Russians have an equally positive attitude towards, for example, Sweden as they have towards Finland.

‘News on child custody clashes’ and their impact on Finland’s image

According to the survey, news featured in the Russian media about family law issues in Finland where one of the parties is from Russia has not impaired the image of Finland among Russians to any appreciable extent. The results indicate that only one in ten Russians have seen a lot on child custody clashes in the mass media. A quarter of respondents have occasionally heard about the topic, and more than half have never heard about it.

The survey also investigated the extent to which Russians trust the information they receive from the mass media about child custody clashes. Of the respondents, 17% said that they trust the information they have received from the Russian media, 9% said that it is not easy to form an objective opinion in cases of this kind, and 8% said that they do not trust the news published on the topic in the Russian media.

The share of respondents with a negative attitude towards Finland among those who had watched news topics about family clashes was only a few percentage points higher than among those who had not heard about the matter. However, considering the survey’s margin of error, the question is only of a small difference.

Information sources and images about Finland

According to the survey, the image held by Russians of Finland is most affected by TV programmes about Finland, schools and textbooks, films, the internet, newspapers, and periodicals and literature.

When asked about the things that first come to mind when thinking about Finland, the respondents mentioned the sauna, its northern location, Helsinki, nature and a high standard of living. When asked about the image of Finnish society, most of the respondents mentioned prosperity, dignity, modernity and innovativeness, democracy, a welfare state and freedom.

Finland’s security policy position, wars and attractiveness as a country of residence

The survey also had questions about Finland’s security policy position. Almost a half of the respondents considered Finland a neutral (35%) or non-allied (13%) country. Of the respondents, 6% thought that Finland is a member of Nato. When asked about the events or actions that could impair their attitude towards Finland, most of the respondents mentioned Finland’s Nato membership (26%) or stricter sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia (20%).

Of the respondents, 40% were generally aware of the Winter War and almost one in ten said they know a lot about it. Approximately one third of Russians had never heard about the Winter War. A clear majority of the respondents were of the opinion that the wars between Finland and the Soviet Union do not influence their attitudes towards Finland. Only 8% considered the wars as a negative influence on the image they have about Finland.

Russians were also asked if they would like to move to Finland if they could. Of the respondents, 12% said they would like to move to Finland and 79% said that they are not interested in moving to Finland.

Further information: Taneli Dobrowolski, Press Officer at the Embassy of Finland in Moscow, tel.+7 915 251 1355 and Ville Cantell, Director, Unit for Communications on Europe and Neighbouring Areas, tel. +358 295 351 847.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ e-mail addresses are in the form firstname.surname@formin.fi

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Updated 9/19/2017


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