People in Georgia approve of doing business with Russians, despite interstate hostility

In the 2017 wave of CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey, 40% of the population of Georgia named Russia as the main enemy of the country.  Turkey and the United States garnered the second highest share of responses with 3% each. Yet, no particular animosity towards ethnic Russians is observed in answers to a question about people’s (dis)approval of individuals of their ethnicity doing business with Russians. This blog post examines how answers differ by people’s opinions about whether or not Russia is the main enemy of Georgia. 

Seventy-seven percent of the population of Georgia report approving of people of their ethnicity doing business with a Russian, which is one of the highest approval rates of the 14 ethnic groups asked about in the survey.  It is important to note, though, that answers to this question are subject to ‘social desirability bias,’ which is the “tendency of some respondents to report an answer in a way they deem to be more socially acceptable than would be their ‘true’ answer.

Only a slightly greater share of people who named Russia as the main enemy of Georgia report disapproving of their co-nationals doing business with a Russian, compared to those who did not name Russia as Georgia’s main enemy. These findings suggest a rather tolerant attitude towards ethnic Russians in Georgia, amidst a sizeable backdrop of opinions that identify Russia as the main enemy of Georgia. They also suggest that people in Georgia distinguish between attitudes towards “Russia” as a state and “Russians” as a people.

Note: The question, “In your opinion, which country is currently the main enemy of Georgia?” was open-ended. For this chart, the countries other than “Russia” were combined into category “Not Russia.”

Given the antagonistic relationship between the political elites of Georgia and Russia, the evidence that interstate hostility does not necessarily equate to negative attitudes on a micro-level is important.

To explore the data used in this blog post further, visit our Online Data Analysis platform.


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