One would think that for all its demonization in the Western press, not to mention the countless comparisons to Hitler and/or the Antichrist, that Putin's Russia would be viewed relatively negatively especially in that bastion of western thought: Britain. Yes, perhaps: it certainly doesn't have a sterling image. However what is remarkableis that depite recent events in the Crimea, Britons still see Russia in a more positive light than the European Union, despite recent tensions with Moscow over Ukraine, according to a poll published on Saturday.
Perhaps this is not surprising, because as AFP reports, voters in Britain are also equally divided about whether to remain in the 28-member bloc, a subject on which Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum in 2017 and which is the reason for the blistering ascent in popularity of such political parties as the UKIP.
The league table of 27 "liked" countries and institutions put the European Parliament -- for which elections are being held in May -- sixth from bottom, and the EU fourth from bottom.
Only Saudi Arabia, Iran and North Korea ranked below the European parliament when those polled were asked how positive or negative they felt towards them. Israel was fifth from bottom and Russia was seventh from bottom. Canada was top.
To be sure, the poll taken before relations between Russia and the West were plunged into the deep freeze because of the crisis in the Ukraine and Russia's absorption of the Crimean peninsula.
Other poll findings:
- 41 percent thought Britain should remain in the EU, while exactly the same percentage thought it should leave, with the rest undecided.
- Only 20 percent of voters were confident that Cameron could renegotiate a better deal for Britain with the EU. He has pledged to do so and then hold a referendum on Britain's EU membership in late 2017, provided that he is re-elected in May 2015.
"Britain is split down the middle," Ashcroft wrote on his website.
Separately, a Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday newspaper showed that 48 percent would vote to leave the EU in a referendum, 39 would vote to stay in, and 13 percent were undecided. It polled 1,000 adults online on Thursday and Friday.
Bottom line: when it comes to authoritarian, illegitimate dictatorial regimes, Russia is certainly giving the EU a run for its money.