Survey: Russians have a positive attitude towards Finland

The new research from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs show how attitudes are changing over the past few years.

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File picture of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square / Credit: iStock

A new survey carried out for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs finds the majority of Russians have a favourable attitude towards Finland and Finns – especially St. Petersburg residents.

It was the second time such an attitude survey was carried out – the last was in 2017 – and questioned 1600 people in different parts of Russia about perceptions of their western neighbour.

According to the survey 71% of people have a positive or very positive attitude about Finland. That’s up 3% since the previous survey, equivalent to around 3.5 million adults.

The proportion of people in Russia who have a negative attitude towards Finland has dropped from 10% to 5% over the last two years.

The most pro-Finland attitudes can be found among young people aged 18 to 24; and those living in Moscow (86%) and St. Petersburg (95%).

What springs to mind, when Russians think of Finland? 

If you ask an average Russian what’s the first thought that springs to mind when they think about Finland, you’re probably not going to be too surprised by the answers.

People living in St. Petersburg – perhaps accustomed to regular trips to the Finnish capital by train – think of Nokia, Stockmann, Valio, Prisma and Viola cheese spread.

According to the study, Russians think Finland has a high standard of living, good welfare state, and Finns’ relationship with nature is something Russians are curious about.

Almost half of Russians, 54%, consider Finland a neutral country – but 7% think Finland is a member of NATO. It’s not, although the 12% of people in the survey who said Finland was a very close partner of NATO got it right.