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Russian anit-Americanism, Public Opinion and the Impact of the State-Controlled Mass Media

Rice, Natalie Manaeva
Committee Members: 
Dr. Paul Ashdown
December 2015


From 2011 to 2015, a rise in anti-Americanism was strongly reflected in Russian public opinion during President Vladimir Putin’s third term. The study examined the phenomenon of anti-Americanism in Russia and the role of state-controlled mass media in promoting anti-American attitudes. Statistical analysis of polls conducted in Russia by the Pew Research Center in 2012 demonstrated that anti-Americanism in Russian society should not be treated as a monolithic phenomenon. A segment of the Russian populace held a strong and deep-seated anti-American ideological bias that affected its perception of everything related to the United States. Other sentiments, however, fit a more complex structure congruent with Chiozza’s dimensions of America theory. These respondents simultaneously held different opinions towards aspects of the United States and its influence. The data indicated that in Russia, at least on the level of the mass public, American soft power did not promote a positive attitude towards the United States. Analysis of polls conducted by the independent Levada Center in Moscow from 2011 to 2015 provided additional insights into the relationship between Russian mass media and anti-Americanism. The rise of anti-Americanism was detected across the audiences of various mass news media. Respondents who preferred different sources of information showed similar patterns in their shifting attitudes towards the United States. Major increases in anti-Americanism among all of the respondents occurred when Putin intensified his anti-western and anti-American rhetoric, and when the Russian mass media launched an aggressive anti-American propaganda campaign.