Friday, April 9, 1999 Published at 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Russian public demands action
Scenes like this have caused widespread anger in Russia
By Russia specialist Tom de Waal
There has been a broad consensus amongst Russian politicians of all views and
the Russian media against the Nato campaign on Yugoslavia.
Even the most
liberal figures have opposed the bombing, while Communist and extreme
nationalist politicians have proposed supporting the regime of Slobodan
Milosevic, by sending him weapons or inviting Yugoslavia to join a "Slavic
Union" with Russia and Belarus.
Opinion polls show mixed messages
The evidence confirms that ordinary Russians overwhelmingly
oppose the bombing -- but it also shows that they are against Russia getting
more closely involved in the conflict.
A survey taken by the "Public Opinion"
Foundation of 1,500 people during
the first week of the campaign found that:
92% opposed the bombing and only two percent supported it.
The lowest level of opposition to Nato came
from young people [88%] and the highest [96%] from amongst
those who, aged 50 or more remember how NATO was Russia's enemy during the Cold
The highest level of support for NATO -- though still tiny at five percent
of those questioned -- was in Russia's two capital cities, Moscow and St
Another survey of the same size by the same foundation taken earlier this week asked Russians what actions they would like to see their country
take and found them reluctant to support any military involvement.
popular tactic, supported by almost half the respondents [47%], was the
use of diplomatic pressure on Nato to make it stop the bombing.
of people wanted to send humanitarian aid to Yugoslavia.
Only a sixth of those
questioned were in favour of sending military advisers to assist the Serbs.
idea of sending volunteers to fight in Yugoslavia turned out to be the most
unpopular measure: over half those questioned [54 percent] were strongly against it.
One of Russia's Black Sea Fleet warships
The poll findings suggest that public opinion is more in tune with the official
position on the crisis than with the views of the Communist and nationalist
opposition. President Yeltsin and the prime minister Yevgeny Primakov have
attacked NATO in the angriest terms, but have so far ruled out any active
assistance to Mr Milosevic. Despite a few ambiguous remarks, the indications
are that their policy will stay that way, at least in the current phase of the
conflict. If NATO commits ground troops to the region of course opinions may