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A wide variety of mass culture clichés about Russia and Russians exists. Many of these stereotypes were developed during the Cold War, and were used as elements of political war against the Soviet Union. Some of these prejudices are still observed in the discussions of the relations with Russia. Negative representation of Russia and Russians in modern popular culture is also often described as functional, as stereotypes about Russia may be used for framing reality, like creating an image of an enemy, or an excuse, or an explanation for compensatory reasons. Decades after the end of the Cold War, Russians are still portrayed as "Hollywood's go-to villains".
- 1 History
- 2 Statistics
- 3 Anti-Russian sentiment by country
- 3.1 Former Soviet Union
- 3.2 Former Eastern Bloc
- 3.3 Rest of the world
- 4 Hollywood
- 5 Business
- 6 View of Russia in Western media
- 7 See also
- 8 Footnotes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
On 19 October 1797 the French Directory received a document from a Polish general, Michał Sokolnicki, entitled "Aperçu sur la Russie". This became known as the so-called "Testament of Peter the Great" and was first published in October 1812, during the Napoleonic wars, in Charles Louis-Lesur's much-read Des progrès de la puissance russe: this was at the behest of Napoleon I, who ordered a series of articles to be published showing that "Europe is inevitably in the process of becoming booty for Russia". Subsequent to the Napoleonic wars, propaganda against Russia was continued by Napoleon's former confessor, Dominique Georges-Frédéric de Pradt, who in a series of books portrayed Russia as a "despotic" and "Asiatic" power hungry to conquer Europe. With reference to Russia's new constitutional laws in 1811 the Savoyard philosopher Joseph de Maistre wrote the now famous statement: "Every nation gets the government it deserves" ("Toute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle mérite").
In 1840s Fyodor Tyutchev of the tsarist secret police introduced the actual term of "russophobia" as part of the pan-Slavic political discourse, where all Slavic nations were to be united under the patronage of Russia. Nations opposing this concept, especially Poles (whom he considered to be the "Judas of the Slavs"), were accused of "unexplained" lack of enthusiasm towards the Russian domination — or russophobia. A number of insurrections in Poland gave the term further spin in 19th century. The term only returned into political dictionaries in USSR under Stalin in 30's. Further works by Russian academics, such as Igor Shafarevich's Russophobia or the treaty from 1980s attributed the spread of russophobia to Jews.
In 1843 the Marquis de Custine published his hugely successful 1800-page, four volume travelogue La Russie en 1839. Custine's scathing narrative reran what were by now clichés which presented Russia as a place where "the veneer of European civilization was too thin to be credible". Such was its huge success that several official and pirated editions quickly followed, as well as condensed versions and translations in German, Dutch and English. By 1846 approximately 200 thousand copies had been sold.
The influential British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote controversially on Russia, that the oppression in the country, rooted in the Red Revolution, perhaps was "the fruit of some beastliness in the Russian nature", also attributing "cruelty and stupidity" to tyranny in both the "Old Russia" (tsarist) and "New Russia" (Soviet).
Hitler stated in Mein Kampf his belief that the Russian state was the work of German elements in the state and not of the Slavs:
Here Fate itself seems desirous of giving us a sign. By handing Russia to Bolshevism, it robbed the Russian nation of that intelligentsia which previously brought about and guaranteed its existence as a state. For the organization of a Russian state formation was not the result of the political abilities of the Slavs in Russia, but only a wonderful example of the state-forming efficacity of the German element in an inferior race.
A secret Nazi plan, the Generalplan Ost called for the enslavement, expulsion or extermination of most Slavic peoples in Europe.
"Need, hunger, lack of comfort have been the Russians' lot for centuries. No false compassion, as their stomachs are perfectly extendible. Don't try to impose the German standards and to change their style of life. Their only wish is to be ruled by the Germans. [...] Help yourselves, and may God help you!"— "12 precepts for the German officer in the East", 1941
Post-Soviet distrust of Russia and Russians is attributable to backlash against the historical memory of Russification pursued by Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, and backlash against modern policies of the Russian government.
Vlad Sobell believes current "Russophobic sentiment" in the West reflects the West's failure to adapt and change its historical attitude towards Russia, even as Russia has (in his view) abandoned past ideology for pragmatism, successfully driving its economic revival. With the West victorious over totalitarianism, Russia serves to perpetuate the role of a needed adversary owing to its "unashamed continuity with the communist Soviet Union."
In October 2004, the International Gallup Organization announced that according to its poll, anti-Russia sentiment remained fairly strong throughout Europe and the West in general. It found that Russia was the least popular G-8 country globally. The percentage of population with a "very negative" or "fairly negative" perception of Russia was 73% in Kosovo, 62% in Finland, 57% in Norway, 42% in the Czech Republic and Switzerland, 37% in Germany, 32% in Denmark and Poland, and 23% in Estonia. Overall, the percentage of respondents with a positive view of Russia was only 31%.
According to a 2014 survey by Pew Research Center, attitudes towards Russia in most countries worsened considerably during Russia's involvement in the 2014 crisis in Ukraine. From 2013 to 2014, the median negative attitudes in Europe rose from 54% to 75%, and from 43% to 72% in the United States. Negative attitudes also rose compared to 2013 throughout the Middle East, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Negative attitudes towards Russia and frequent criticism of the Russian government in western media should not be confused with negative attitudes towards Russian people and culture. In a 2012 survey, the percentage of Russian immigrants in the EU that indicated that they had experienced racially motivated hate crimes was 5%, which is less than the average of 10% reported by several groups of immigrants and ethnic minorities in the EU. 17% of Russian immigrants in the EU said that they had been victims of crimes the last 12 months, for example theft, attacks, frightening threats or harassment, as compared to an average of 24% among several groups of immigrants and ethnic minorities.
|Country polled||Favorable||Unfavorable||Neutral||Change from 2014|
|Burkina Faso||35||No Data|
Anti-Russian sentiment by country
Former Soviet Union
Anti-Russian sentiment in Armenia has historically been very low. According to a July 2007 poll, only 2% of Armenians see Russia as a threat, as opposed to 88% who view Russia as Armenia's partner. According to Manvel Sargsyan, the Director of the Armenian Center of National and Strategic Research, "There are no special anti-Russian sentiments in Armenia." Armenia's first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan stated in 2013 that anti-Russian sentiment "has never existed and still does not exist" in Armenia, except "some marginal elements and some individuals with anti-Russian sentiment." During the dissolution of the Soviet Union and rise of nationalism in the Soviet republics and Eastern bloc countries, Armenian nationalists were among the few that did not "interpret Russia as their most significant threat." Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian stated in 2001 that "Anti-Soviet sentiment did not mean anti-Russian in Armenia's case."
On several occasions, however, anti-Russian sentiment has been expressed in Armenia, particularly in response to real or perceived anti-Armenian actions by Russia. In June 1903, Nicholas II issued a decree ordering the confiscation of all Armenian Church properties (including church-run schools) and its transfer to the Russian Interior Ministry. The decision was perceived by Armenians to be an effort of Russification and it met widespread popular resistance by the Russian Armenian population and led by the Dashnak and Hunchak parties. This included attacks on Russian authorities in attempts to prevent the confiscation. The decree being eventually canceled in 1905. In more recent times, in July 1988, during the Karabakh movement, the killing of an Armenian man and the injury of tens of others by the Soviet army in a violent clash at Zvartnots Airport near Yerevan sparked anti-Russian and anti-Soviet sentiment in the Armenian public.
Anti-Russian sentiment is prevalent among a substantial number of Azerbaijanis, especially due to the violent crackdown by the Soviet military of the anti-Armenian violence in Baku in January 1990, which resulted in more than one hundred civilian deaths.
According to a 2012 poll, 35% of Georgians perceive Russia as Georgia's biggest enemy, while the percentage was significantly higher in 2011, at 51%. In a February 2013 poll, 63% of Georgians said Russia is Georgia's biggest political and economic threat as opposed to 35% of those who looked at Russia as the most important partner for Georgia.
According to veteran German author, journalist and Russia-correspondent Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, there is deep disapproval of everything Russian in Estonia, this however has been challenged in a poll conducted by Gallup International which suggests that 23% of Estonians see Russia in negative light while 34% have positive attitude towards Russia. In a 2012 poll, 3% of the Russian minority in Estonia reported that they had experienced a racially motivated hate crime (as compared to an average of 10% among immigrants in EU).
According to Estonian philosopher Jaan Kaplinski, the birth of anti-Russian sentiment in Estonia dates back to 1940, as there was little or none during the czarist and first independence period, when anti-German sentiment predominated. Kaplinski states the imposition of Soviet rule in 1940 and subsequent actions by Soviet authorities led to the replacement of anti-German sentiment with anti-Russian sentiment within just one year, and characterized it as "one of the greatest achievements of the Soviet authorities". Kaplinski supposes that anti-Russian sentiment could disappear as quickly as anti-German sentiment did in 1940, however he believes the prevailing sentiment in Estonia is sustained by Estonia's politicians who employ "the use of anti-Russian sentiments in political combat," together with the "tendentious attitude of the [Estonian] media." Kaplinski says that a "rigid East-West attitude is to be found to some degree in Estonia when it comes to Russia, in the form that everything good comes from the West and everything bad from the East"; this attitude, in Kaplinski's view, "probably does not date back further than 1940 and presumably originates from Nazi propaganda."
The Estonian businessman and politician Tiit Vähi, who briefly served as Estonia's prime minister in 1992 and once more in 1995-1997, described "overall anti-Russian sentiment" as a feature of the populist current in the country's politics, raising it as one among a number of issues with the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Andrus Ansip.
According to Andrei Tsygankov (a Russian himself), ethnic Russians in Latvia are subjected to ethnic discrimination. In a 2012 poll, 2% of the Russian minority in Latvia reported that they had experienced a racially motivated hate crime (as compared to an avarerage of 10% among immigrants and minorities in EU).
Latvian American doctor and former member of the Civic Union, Aivars Slucis wrote op-eds in the New York Times and Washington Post in which he explains to the Americans that Russians have invading other nations in their genes, and they can only understand the language of force. Slucis wrote that he would personally never treat a Russian patient with soviet symbols tattooed on his body who came into his office. In November 2010, Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, the Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister, became embroiled in a scandal with Slucis after email correspondence between the two from 2009 was released by journalist Lato Lapsa. In one of the letters, Slucis stated that he would not be able to treat Russians with the same level of care that we would Latvians, and also stated that in the event of a shortage of medical supplies he would deny Russians the right to access to those supplies. In reply, Kristovskis stated that he approved of "both his assessment and vision of the situation". According to Lapsa, Kristovskis was also in agreeance with Slucis advocating for freezing and reviewing all citizenships granted after 1991 with the thought of rescinding a majority.
In a report by the Jamestown Foundation, dealing with the topic of the (extremely positive according to the report) reception of American Republican senator John McCain's statements about Russia's "double standards in the Caucasus" (referring to how Russia recognized South Ossetia but would not let Chechnya go), one Chechen was quoted to have gone so far as to tell the website that Chechnya "cannot exist within the borders of Russia because every 50 years... Russia kills us Chechens"., demonstrating local fear of the Russian government.
Journalist Fatima Tlisova released an article in 2009 discussing the frequent occurrences of Russian Orthodox crosses being sawed off buildings and thrown off mountains in Circassia, due to the cross being associated with the people who initiated the mass expulsions of Circassians.
In a poll held by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in May 2009 in Ukraine, 96% of respondents were positive about Russians as an ethnic group, 93% respected the Russian Federation and 76% respected the Russian establishment. In a poll held by Levada Center in Russia in June 2009, 75% of respondents respected Ukrainians as an ethnic group, but 55% were negative about Ukraine as the state.
According to the statistics released on October 21, 2010 by the Institute of Sociology of National Academy of Science of Ukraine, positive attitudes towards Russians have been decreasing since 1994. In response to a question gauging tolerance of Russians, 15% of Western Ukrainians responded positively. In Central Ukraine, 30% responded positively (from 60% in 1994); 60% responded positively in Southern Ukraine (from 70% in 1994); and 64% responded positively in Eastern Ukraine (from 75% in 1994). Furthermore, 6-7% of Western Ukrainians would banish Russians entirely from Ukraine, and 7-8% in Central Ukraine responded similarly. This level of sentiment was not found in Southern or Eastern Ukraine.
The right-wing political party "Svoboda", has invoked radical Russophobic rhetoric (see poster) and has electoral support enough to garner majority support in local councils, as seen in the Ternopil regional council in Western Ukraine. Analysts explained Svoboda’s victory in Eastern Galicia during the 2010 Ukrainian local elections as a result of the policies of the Azarov Government who were seen as too pro-Russian by the voters of "Svoboda".
Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of the far-right Svoboda party, whose members hold senior positions in Ukraine's government, urged his party to fight "the Moscow-Jewish mafia" ruling Ukraine. Right Sector's leader for West Ukraine, Oleksandr Muzychko, has talked about fighting "communists, Jews and Russians for as long as blood flows in my veins." Ukrainian–Israeli oligarch and governor of Dnipropetrovsk Ihor Kolomoisky issued a $10,000 bounty for the apprehension of Russian 'saboteurs'. At least one billboard exists with the following text: "$10,000 for a Moskal" (derogatory name for Russians).
Former Eastern Bloc
Mutual animosity between Poland and Russia have a long history, dating to the late Middle Ages, when the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Muscovy struggled over control of their borderlands. Over centuries, there have been several Polish-Russian wars, with Poland once occupying Moscow and later Russians controlling much of Poland in the 19th century as well as in the 20th century.
Much of the modern anti-Russian feelings in Poland is caused by grievances of the past. The most contentious issue is the massacre of 22,000 Polish officers, priests and intellectuals in Katyn Forest in 1940, and deportation of around 250,000 mostly polish civilians and others including soldiers to Siberia and Kazakhstan where many, around 100,000 died, even though the Russian government has officially acknowledged and apologized for the atrocity.
Jakub Boratyński, the director of international programs at the independent Polish think tank Stefan Batory Foundation, said that anti-Russian feelings have substantially decreased since Poland joined the EU and NATO, and that Poles feel more secure than before, but he also admitted that many people in Poland still look suspiciously at Russian foreign-policy moves and are afraid Russia is seeking to "recreate an empire in a different form." 
Anti-Russian sentiment dates back to the conflict between the Russian and Ottoman empires in the early 19th century and the ceding of part of the Moldavian principality to Russia by the Ottoman Empire in 1812 after its de facto annexation, and to the annexations during World War II and after by the Soviet Union of Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia and the policies of ethnic cleansing, Russification and deportations that have taken place in those territories against ethnic Romanians. Following WWII, Romania, an ally of Nazi Germany, was occupied by Soviet forces. Soviet dominance over the Romanian economy was manifested through the so-called Sovroms, exacting a tremendous economic toll ostensibly as war-time reparations. Overall, there is a negative perception of everything Russian, including language, culture and people, and individuals who take an interest in these matters are seen as pro-Communists or Russophiles.
Rest of the world
There is no academic study of anti-Russian sentiment in Afghanistan. However, the soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the atrocities committed by the soviet client government and the Red army in Afghanistan, left a deep rooted disdain for the Russians in large parts of the population and in particular among the diaspora that fled the communist puppet government. The hatred went so deeply, that the Afghan resistance did not keep any Russian prisoners of war, as every captured Russian soldier was brutally murdered.
According to the World Public Opinion poll undertaken in 2013, 53% of Australians had a negative view of Russia, up 15% from 2012. Following the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, allegedly by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, which claimed the lives of at least 27 Australians, the Australian government and the Opposition became decidedly anti-Russian, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott considering barring Russian President Vladimir Putin from attending the 2014 G-20 Brisbane summit.
In Finland, anti-Russian sentiment has been studied since the 1970s. The history of anti-Russian sentiment has two main theories. One of them considers the Finns and the Russians have been the arch-enemy throughout history. The position is considered to have been dominated at least the 1700s since the days of the Greater Wrath, when the Russians "occupied Finland and raped it." This view largely assumes that through the centuries, "Russia is a violent slayer and Finland is an innocent, virginal victim". In 1920s and 1930s this anti-Russian and anti-Communism propaganda had a fertile ground. Failed Russian actions to terminate Finnish autonomy and cultural uniqueness (1899–1905 and 1908–1917) contributed greatly to both the anti-Russian feelings in Finland. The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact which granted Finland to Soviet Union, followed the attack of the Soviet Union against Finland during the Winter War and Soviet annexation of large parts of Finland. This caused lots of casualties among Finnish population and 11% of the total population having to leave their homes in the caused a lot of bitterness, and has endured as the Karelian question in Finnish politics.
Other theory considers that anti-Russian sentiment was born in Finland at the time of civil war 1917–1918, and was anti-Russian political and ideological White Finland created a confrontation by deliberately blow and spread. Anti-Russian sentiment was created against the external threat of the Soviet Union and it was almost a national duty in 1920s and 1930s. During World War II, Finns organized internment camps to the occupied East Karelia where ethnic segregation between 'relatives' (Finnic population) and 'non-relatives' (other, primarily Russian population) took place which has been attributed to anti-Russian sentiment.
According to polls in 2004, 62% of Finnish citizens had a negative view of Russia. The main reasons were historically rooted antipathy. Deportation of Ingrian Finns, autochthones of St. Petersburg, Ingria and other Soviet repressions against its Finnish minorities have contributed to negative views of Russia. In a 2012 poll, 12% of Russian immigrants in Finland reported that they had experienced a racially motivated hate crime (as compared to an avarerage of 10% of immigrants in EU).
The Swedish words russofob (Russophobe) and russofobi (Russophobia) were first recorded in 1877 and 1904 respectively and its more frequent synonym rysskräck (fear of Russia or Russians) in 1907. Older synonyms were rysshat (hatred of Russia or Russians) from 1846 and ryssantipati (antipathy against Russia or Russians) from 1882.
The Russian state is said to have been organized in the 9th century AD at Novgorod by Rurik, supposedly coming from Sweden. In the 13th century, Stockholm was founded to stop foreign navies from invading lake Mälaren. Both events are signs that hostile naval missions across the Baltic Sea go a long way back, temporarily ending with the peace treaty of Nöteborg 1323 between Sweden and the Novgorod Republic (which later became Russia), soon to be broken by another catholic Swedish crusade into Greek-orthodox Novgorod. Russia has been described as Sweden's "archenemy" (a title also given to Denmark). The two countries have often been at war, most intensively during the Great Northern War (1700–1721) and the Finnish War (1808–1809), when Sweden lost that third of its territory to Russia that now is Finland. Sweden defeated a Russian army in the Battle of Narva (1700), but was defeated by Russia in the Battle of Poltava 1709. In 1719 Russian troops burnt most Swedish cities and industrial communities along the Baltic sea coast to the ground (from Norrköping up to Piteå in the north) in what came to be called "Rysshärjningarna" (the Russian ravages, a term first recorded in 1730). "The Russians are coming" (ryssen kommer) is a traditional Swedish warning call. After the death of king Charles XII in 1718 and the peace in 1721, Swedish politics was dominated by a peace-minded parliament, with a more aggressive opposition (Hats and Caps). When Swedish officer Malcolm Sinclair was murdered in 1739 by two Russian officers, the anti-Russian ballad Sinclairsvisan by Anders Odel became very popular.
After 1809, there have been no more wars between Russia and Sweden, partly due to Swedish neutrality and nonalignment foreign policy since then. Peaceful relationships and the Russian capital being Saint Petersburg, many Swedish companies ran large businesses in Imperial Russia, including Branobel and Ericsson. Many poets still grieved the loss of Finland and called for a military revenge, ideas that were refueled by the Crimean War in the 1850s. With the increasing cultural exchange between neighboring countries (Scandinavism) and the nationalist revival in Finland (through Johan Ludvig Runeberg and Elias Lönnrot), contempt with the attempts of Russification of Finland spread to Sweden. Before World War I, travelling Russian saw filers were suspected of espionage by Swedish proponents of increased military spending. After the Russian Revolution in the spring of 1917 and the abdication of the Tsar, great hope was vested in the new provisional government, only to be replaced with despair after the so-called October Revolution. Old anti-Russian sentiments were compounded by a fresh element of anti-communism, to last for the duration of the existence of the Soviet Union. Many Swedes voluntarily joined the Finnish side in the Winter War between Finland and Soviet Union 1939–1940. When the Soviet state was finally dissolved in 1991, anti-communism became less relevant in terms of power politics and for some time, few seemed to recall the fear of its predecessor. The old cry ryssen kommer also seemed obsolete.
Thus, in statements made by Swedish politicians, the Swedish sentiments against the Russian government have always been about fear of military invasion, which now (before the intervention in Ukraine) seemed to be gone for the foreseeable future, and also about human rights and democracy issues. Only 31% of Swedes stated that they liked Russia in 2011, and 23% in 2012, and only 10% have confidence in Russian elections.
In June 2014, political scientist Sergey Markov complained about Russophobia in Sweden and Finland, comparing it to antisemitism. "Would you want to be part of starting a Third World War? Antisemitism started the Second World War, Russophobia could start a third.", he commented. The retired Swedish history professor and often cited expert on Russia Kristian Gerner said he was "almost shocked" by Markov's claim, and described his worldview as "nearly paranoid".
The history of Anti-Russian sentiment in New Zealand was analyzed in Glynn Barratt's book Russophobia in New Zealand, 1838-1908. This research was expanded to cover the period up to 1939 in an article by Tony Wilson.
According to Wilson, Russophobia towards the Russian Empire had no roots in the country itself and was fueled by British Russophobic attitude, New Zealand being a British colony. It was aggravated by lack of information about Russia and contacts with it due to the mutual remoteness. Various wars involving the Russian Empire fueled the "Russian scare". Additional negative attitude was brought by Jewish immigration after Anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire, which was halted as a combined result of Russophobia and anti-Semitism. As of 1916, there were 1242 settlers of Russian origin in the country, including 169 Jews. During World War I Russophobia was temporarily supplanted by Germanophobia for evident reasons; however, soon after the Russian Revolution of 1917, the fear of Marxism and Bolshevism revived Russophobia in the form of "Red Scare". Notably, local Russians had no issues with Russophobia. By late 1920s pragmatism moderated Russophobia in official circles, especially during the Great Depression. Sympathetic views were propagated by visitors to the Soviet Union, such as George Bernard Shaw, impressed by Soviet propaganda.
In Great Britain, anti-Russian sentiment arose during conflicts including the Crimean War and the Anglo-Afghan wars, which were seen as representing Russia's territorial ambitions regarding the British empire in India. This competition for spheres of influence and colonies (see e.g. The Great Game and Berlin Congress) fueled anti-Russian sentiment in Great Britain. British propaganda of the time took up the theme of Russians as uncultured Asiatic barbarians. The American professor Jimmie E. Cain Jr has claimed that these views were then exported to other parts of the world and were reflected in the literature of late the 19th and early 20th centuries, though this is to miss the fact that these views had been formulated much earlier and already widely published by various French sources since 1812.
Most Japanese interaction with Russian individuals – besides in major cities such as Tokyo – happens with seamen and fishermen of the Russian fishing fleet, therefore Japanese people tend to carry the stereotypes associated with sailors over to Russians. According to a 2012 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, 72% of Japanese people view Russia unfavorably, compared with 22% who viewed it favorably, making Japan the most anti-Russian country surveyed.
According to a 2013 survey 73% of Turks look at Russia unfavorably against 16% with favorable views.
In the 20th century, anti-Russian sentiment in Turkey was so great that the Russians refused to allow a Turkish military attache to accompany their armies.
According to a 2013 Poll, 59% of Americans had a negative view of Russia, 23% had a favorable opinion, and 18% were uncertain. According to a survey by Pew Research Center, negative attitudes towards Russia in the United States rose from 43% to 72% from 2013 to 2014.
Recent events such as Anti-Magnitsky bill, the Boston Marathon bombings and Russia's actions following the Ukrainian crisis are deemed to have caused negative impression about Russia in the United States.
In a 2014 news story, Fox News reported, "Russians may also be unimpressed with Hollywood’s apparent negative stereotyping of Russians in movies. "The Avengers" featured a ruthless former KGB agent, "Iron Man 2" centers on a rogue Russian scientist with a vendetta, and action thriller "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" saw Kenneth Branagh play an archetypal Russian bad guy, just to name a few."
In May and June 2006, Russian media cited discrimination against Russian companies as one possible reason why the contemplated merger between the Luxembourg-based steelmaker Arcelor and Russia's Severstal did not finalize. According to the Russian daily Izvestiya, those opposing the merger "exploited the 'Russian threat' myth during negotiations with shareholders and, apparently, found common ground with the Europeans", while Boris Gryzlov, speaker of the State Duma observed that "recent events show that someone does not want to allow us to enter their markets." On 27 July 2006, the New York Times quoted the analysts as saying that many Western investors still think that anything to do with Russia is "a little bit doubtful and dubious" while others look at Russia in "comic book terms, as mysterious and mafia-run."
View of Russia in Western media
Some Russian and Western commentators express concern about a far too negative coverage of Russia in Western media (some Russians even describe this as a "war of information"). In April 2007, David Johnson, founder of the Johnson's Russia List, said in interview to the Moscow News: "I am sympathetic to the view that these days Putin and Russia are perhaps getting too dark a portrayal in most Western media. Or at least that critical views need to be supplemented with other kinds of information and analysis. An openness to different views is still warranted." 
In 1995, years before Vladimir Putin was elected to his first term, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported: "coverage of Russia and its president, Boris Yeltsin, was decidedly negative, even though national polls continue to find the public feeling positive toward Russia and largely uncritical of Yeltsin." 
In February 2007, the Russian creativity agency E-generator put together a "rating of Russophobia" of Western media, using for the research articles concerning a single theme — Russia's chairmanship of G8, translated into Russian by InoSmi.Ru. The score was composed for each edition, negative values granted for negative assessments of Russia, and positive values representing positive ones. The top in the rating were Newsday (-43, U.S.), The Financial Times (-34, Great Britain), The Wall Street Journal (-34, U.S.), Le Monde (-30, France), while editions on the opposite side of the rating were Toronto Star (+27, Canada) and The Conservative Voice (+26, U.S.) 
California-based international relations scholar Andrei Tsygankov has remarked that anti-Russian political rhetoric coming from Washington circles has received wide echo in American mainstream media, asserting that "Russophobia's revival is indicative of the fear shared by some U.S. and European politicians that their grand plans to control the world's most precious resources and geostrategic sites may not succeed if Russia's economic and political recovery continues."
At the same time majority of the Western criticism is usually applied to the same policies and practice of the Russian government as criticised internally - corruption, abuse of law, censorship, violence and intervention in Ukraine. Western criticism in this aspect goes in line with Russian independent media (TV Rain, Novaya Gazeta, Ekho Moskvy, The Moscow Times) and human rights activists (Memorial). It is state-owned media and administration who attempt to discredit this criticism by generalizing it into indiscriminate accusations of the whole Russian population - or russophobia.
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