Over half of Russians support open border with Ukraine, yet their number is declining - poll

Some 94 percentof Russians stay tuned into the situation in Ukraine and 59 percentare watching Ukrainian events very closely, Levada Center told Interfax.

Some 94 percentof Russians stay tuned into the situation in Ukraine and 59 percentare watching Ukrainian events very closely, Levada Center told Interfax.

In the opinion of 52 percentof 1,600 Russians polled in 134 populated localities in 46 regions on January 23-26, the border between Russia and Ukraine should stay open, without any visas or customs.

The indicator stood at 62 percentin September 2014.

A third of the respondents polled in January said they would not mind a visa regime and a closed border with Ukraine (33 percentvs. 26 percentin September). This is the largest index since March 2008 (19%).

Eight percent of respondents want Russia and Ukraine to be a single state (7 percentin September).

Speaking of the future of southeastern Ukraine, 43 percentof respondents would like that region to be an independent state (40 percentin December), 19 percentwish it were part of Russia (13 percentin December), and 17 percentsuggest that the east should remain part of Ukraine but have more independence from Kyiv (25 percenta month ago).

A minority argues that the southeastern regions should stay part of Ukraine on pre-crisis terms (4 percentvs. 6 percentin December).

Respondents were also asked what the Ukrainian government should do about Donbas.

In the opinion of 54 percentof Russians, Ukrainian authorities should grant independence to the breakaway republics; 21 percentsay the region should be part of Ukraine but enjoy special economic and political status, and 5 percentinsist on keeping the region within Ukraine, without any change to its status. Twenty percent were undecided.

Thirty-three percent predict a protracted conflict in Donbas that might eventually spread into other areas of Ukraine. Twenty-six percent think the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics may retain their current borders as independent states; 8 percentforecast Russia's incorporation of southeastern Ukraine, and 6 percentbelieve that Donbas can remain part of Ukraine. Twenty-eight percent were unable to answer the question.

The poll demonstrated that 84 percentof respondents supported Crimea's accession to Russia, 12 percentwere against and 4 percentwere hesitant.

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