Eastern Partnership countries feel closer to Russian culture than European culture

The Eastern Partnership is a culturally diverse grouping of five states that have found themselves locked in a contest between European and Russian influence. Given the EaP initiative’s political nature, divisions within these countries are often framed as simply pro-Russian vs. pro-European, which are often viewed as culturally uniform and distinct from each other.

Nevertheless, regular data collection in this emerging buffer zone between Russia and the European Union allows us to gain a more detailed picture. In this column, I first discuss each country’s perception of other cultures and then I present data on the kinds of films their citizens prefer to watch. 

The data was collected by a consortium composed by TNS Opinion SA between October and November 2014 as part of the EU sponsored ENPI Barometer survey(The European Commission’s Development and Cooperation Office, EuropeAid) GORBI was in charge of data collection in the EaP countries (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus).

European culture feels familiar to two respondents in five

Not surprisingly respondents in the EaP countries feel the closest to their national culture (95%). Russian influence remains strong in the region, with 60% saying that they feel closely connected to Russian culture. European culture feels familiar to 40% of respondents while only around one respondent in ten feels close to American culture (11%).

The pattern of results of this question is relatively similar in all Eastern Partnership countries:

•    In all countries the highest proportion of respondents says they feel close to the
culture of their own country
•    Russian culture appears to most recognized in Belarus (87%), followed by two-thirds
•    of respondents in Moldova (68%) and Armenia (65%). Three respondents in five in
•    Ukraine say they feel close to Russian culture
•    Nearly half of respondents in the Russian Federation (48%) say they feel close to
European culture, followed by 46% of respondents in Ukraine
•    Azerbaijan and Georgia are countries that are the “least connected” to the Russian culture, 26% and 38% respectively.

Based on other worldwide surveys conducted, the United States is pretty disliked by the Russian public, but 19% of respondent still feel close to it.

Table 1.Q. Personally, to what extend do you feel close to…

Preferred types of films

Most respondents prefer to watch national films. As the analysis has shown, watching movies via various channels is by far the most common cultural activity in the Eastern Partnership countries. As a supplementary question, respondents were asked what type of films they prefer to watch.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents prefer to watch national films (64%). In the second place, similar proportions of respondents mention American (47%) and European films (45%). Films of African and Asian origin are not as interesting for respondents in these countries.

Respondents in five countries prefer to watch national films. This is the case particularly in
the Russian Federation (89%) and Georgia (84%). This should not come as a surprise. During the Soviet period, these two countries had the most advanced film industries and shot scores of world class movies.

In Moldova, respondents prefer American films (53%) and in Belarus, European films (60%). Furthermore, respondents in Azerbaijan show a relatively high level of interest in Indian films (34%) and respondents in Moldova in films originating for example from Africa and China (42%).

Table 2: Q. What type of films do you prefer to watch?

Young and highly educated respondents are more likely to prefer American and European
films than older respondents and respondents with a shorter period spent in full-time
education. American films: young respondents (67% vs. 25% in the oldest group), highly
educated respondents (48% vs. 32% in the lowest education group); European films: young respondents (51% vs. 38%), highly educated respondents (50% vs. 34%);

GORBI is a regional hub for partner organizations and international clients. Since 2003, GORBI remains an exclusive member of Gallup International research network for its two decades of experience in survey research in post-Soviet Union countries, as well as Mongolia and Iraq. All 6 surveys were conducted on a national representative sample of 1,000 respondents; data retains a 3% margin of error, with confidence at 95%. This data was provided exclusively to the Financial. Please do not visit our site ( www.gorbi.com ); it is under construction.

Author: Merab Pachulia, GORBI