Prague - In spite of the resolute statements made by top Russian officials, common people in the Russian Federation are largely indifferent to the US plan to build an anti-missile radar in the Czech Republic.
At least that is the result of a recent poll commissioned and financed by Czech MP (for the ruling Civic Democratic Party) David Šeich.
The survey was released as Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek is to discuss the issue of the American anti-missile shield with US officials in the USA.
"The voice of common Russians was not heard the Czech Republic. What we hear is just statements made by Russian military and public service officials. That has inspired me," Šeich explained his motivation for having the poll conducted.
48 % indifferent, 36 % troubled
Russians were asked whether they are troubled by the US plan to build part of their anti-missile shield in the Czech Republic.
36.7 per cent answered they are disturbed by the plan while 15.3 per cent said they were not alarmed. The majority - 48 per cent of those questioned, however, said they are entirely indifferent to the issue.
In total 850 Russians in 12 major metropolitan areas in Russia were questioned. MP Šeich contracted the job to a Russian businessman who has experience in conducting similar polls for Russian transnational companies.
"The poll has showed that a majority of Russians is not interested in the problem at all, which means that the statements made by Russian president Vladimir Putin are more than exaggerated and the position of the common Russian is far from being as it is presented by Putin. The democratic Russian rather pays attention to the citizen´s stance," said Šeich.
Šeich added that despite some Czechs´ hostile attitude to the US plan, Mirek Topolánek has full power to discuss the issue with American officials.
Petr Robejšek from the International Institute for Politics and Economics in Hamburg believes that the US shield is above all a protective measure for the Czech Republic.
"The Russian interest is very similar to that of the US. Russians are threatened by attacks made from uncontrollable countries too. Their argumentation is not honest, they are way more threatened than the US," explained Robejšek.
According to him, the dispute about radar is clearly about the long-term influence in Central and East European regions.
"For the Americans, it is challenging to be politically and militarily present in a place requisitioned by their challengers, the Russians, and the EU as well," he said.
"Statements made by the Russian officials are aimed partially at domestic scene, partially at changing the public opinion in the Czech Republic and Poland. And it is necessary to add that so far, the Russians have been very successful in it," assumed Michal Thim from the Czech scholarly non-governmental organization Association for International Affairs.