POLL: A Third of Kazakhstanis Started Treating Russia Worse after the Outbreak of the War

At the same time, fears of an invasion by the Russian Federation have doubled

From May 3 to May 12, 2023, DEMOSCOPE Bureau of Public Opinion Express Monitoring and the PaperLab Research Center conducted a regular survey of Kazakhstani citizens on the topic “What People in Kazakhstan Think about the War in Ukraine”.

The survey was conducted 6 months after the previous measurement using a similar methodology. This allows you to compare the results of studies and analyze the data obtained over time.

The survey was conducted through telephone interviews among cellular subscribers in the Republic of Kazakhstan. The basis of the sample was the base of numbers obtained using a random number generator. A total of 1,100 respondents over the age of 18 were surveyed. 59.7% preferred to answer in Kazakh, 40.3% in Russian. At the same time, 70.9% of respondents are Kazakhs, 17.5% are Russians and 11.6% are representatives of other nationalities. The data are weighted by gender, age and ethnicity of the respondents. The maximum size of the error with a probability of 95% does not exceed 3%. The response rate was 15%.

The DEMOSCOPE study showed that six months after the previous survey, the attitude of citizens to the war in Ukraine has not changed significantly. However, there is a negative trend in the perception of Russia. Thus, 15% of Kazakhstanis believe in a possible Russian attack on Kazakhstan. This is twice as high as in November 2022. Then only 8.3% allowed such a probability. 

At the same time, 23.3% of respondents admit a similar forecast, but under certain circumstances. According to the previous survey, 19% thought so. On the contrary 61.8% consider such a forecast impossible. Last year, it was 72.7%. 

Also during the survey, respondents were asked whether their attitude towards Russia has changed since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, and if it has changed, then in which direction. Half of the citizens (51.5%) have not changed their attitude towards Russia. A third of Kazakhstanis (32.6%) have it worsened. Only 4.7% of respondents said about the improvement of their attitude towards Russia since the beginning of the war. In this answer, the older age group stands out noticeably. Thus, among respondents aged 18 to 29, only 0.7% sympathize with Russia. There are only 5% among those who are aged 40 to 5. 10.8% of 60+ citizens say about improving their attitude towards Russia.

The most important marker of public opinion is the level of support for the parties to the conflict. According to the DEMOSCOPE results, 21.1% of Kazakhstanis support Ukraine, while 12.8% are on the side of Russia. It is characteristic that the majority of citizens 59.8% adhere to neutrality. 

It is important to note that in terms of age, the greatest support for Russia was recorded among respondents over 60 years old – 22.9%. This is twice as high as the other age categories. This age group prefers to receive information about the war in Ukraine on television. 

Significantly, the results of a survey conducted in November 2022 showed a similar scenario. At that time, young people aged 18 to 29 were much more likely to speak out in support of Ukraine. In this group, the share of supporters of Ukraine was 4 times higher than those who support Russia – 23% and 6%, respectively. There were more supporters of Ukraine in almost all age groups, with the exception of representatives of the 60+ generation. In this group, more than a third of respondents support Russia (34%), while only 14% support Ukraine.

The DEMOSCOPE survey recorded a fairly high public interest in the situation in Ukraine.  Although, in comparison with last year, there was some decline. So a total of 53% of respondents follow the development of events in one way or another (in November 2022 it was 61.9%). At the same time, 13.2% follow the news about Ukraine almost daily, and 39.8% follow the news from time to time. 47.1% do not follow it.

Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of citizens – 70.7% – are concerned about what is happening in Ukraine. Only 24% are not concerned about the current geopolitical situation.

One of the key factors influencing the public perception of this conflict are the reasons and beliefs that explain the motives of each side. 

The survey showed that a total of a third of Kazakhstanis (31.8%) share the Kremlin’s narratives:

  • 13.6% are convinced that Russia is conducting a special military operation against the Nazis in Ukraine;
  • 18.2% believe that Russia is at war with Western countries and NATO on the territory of Ukraine.

Over the past six months, these indicators have hardly changed. At the same time, attention is drawn to the fact that the share of Kazakhstanis who believe that Russia is waging war against Ukraine for the purpose of its occupation and further annexation has increased from 22 to 28%. This was due to a decrease in the share of those who found it difficult in this matter (a decrease from 44.7% to 39.7%). 

On the issue of predicting the outcome of the war, the opinion of respondents was distributed approximately equally: 10% think that Russia will win, and 8.9% believe in the victory of Ukraine. 54% were in favor of a compromise option. And 27.1% do not know what the outcome will be. Interestingly, the figures of last year were similar with the only difference that 7.5% believed in the victory of Ukraine at that time. 

In the context of the war, it is important to understand how Kazakhstan treats the leaders of the countries participating in the conflict. The survey showed that citizens equally ambiguously perceive both V. Putin and V. Zelensky. Thus, 26.5% of respondents indicated that they like these politicians, and a third of respondents expressed an indifferent attitude towards them. At the same time, the negative attitude towards the President of the Russian Federation is more pronounced than in the case of the President of Ukraine (“I don’t like” reply – 32% and 26%, respectively).

The list of leaders of the countries also included the leaders of major powers such as Turkey, the United States, and China, as well as the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan K. Tokayev. So, according to the DEMOSCOPE survey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has a much more positive image in Kazakh society than Biden and Xi Jinping. Thus, 55.6% of the country’s citizens like the Turkish leader, while only 18 and 8% of respondents sympathize with the US president and the Chinese president, respectively. Tokayev is perceived much better against the background of other leaders: 74.8% “like” him and 6.9% of respondents “dislike” him.

One of the widely discussed topics in the media was the news that the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for V. Putin. The results of the survey showed that there is no dominant opinion on this topic in society. In total, 29.7% of respondents do not support this decision, and 20.7%, on the contrary, expressed solidarity. 

The study also showed public opinion regarding the vector of development of Kazakhstan. So 61.4% of citizens believe that the country is moving in the right direction. 21.8% oppose them, and 16.8% could not answer this question. 

Finally, one of the objectives of the survey was to find out which country, in the opinion of citizens, Kazakhstan should focus on in its development. It is significant that the majority of respondents (52%) are convinced that Kazakhstan does not need to focus on anyone, since the country has its own path of development.

The remaining votes were distributed as follows:

  • Turkey – 7.8%
  • Japan – 6%
  • Russia – 5.8%
  • the Middle East (UAE, Saudi Arabia, etc.) – 5.9%
  • Southeast Asian countries (Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, etc.) – 5%
  • Western European countries (France, Germany, England, etc.) – 4.8%
  • China – 3.6%
  • the USA – 2.4%.

The results of three DEMOSCOPE Bureau studies on the war in Ukraine confirm the very strong influence of Russian propaganda on the public opinion of Kazakhstanis. The narratives about the war broadcast by the Kremlin in the survey are shared by at least a third of citizens. 

At the same time, according to the last two polls’ results, the ideas of Kazakhstanis about the war in Ukraine remain very stable. The share of supporters of Ukraine is more than 20%, while Russia is supported by about 13%. At the same time, after the outbreak of the war, a third of Kazakhstanis had a worse attitude towards Russia. There is also an increase in fears of possible aggression against Kazakhstan by the Russian Federation. 

Detailed survey results are available on the project’s website:

Press release and infographics in Kazakh and Russian: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1RDIrM8GxTxh4yaCBbHED-Qc1CZn9wSMd?usp=sharing

Please note the hyperlink to this article is required if using any data from here.


Methodology: From 3 to 12 May 2023, 1,100 people were interviewed in 17 regions and cities of republican significance (Astana, Almaty, Shymkent). The survey was conducted by telephone interviews among mobile subscribers in Kazakhstan. The sample was based on a database of numbers obtained using a random number generator. The telephone survey was carried out by the KT CloudLab Contact Center LLP. 56.2% of men and 43.8% of women over 18 years old took part in the survey. 59.7% preferred to answer in Kazakh, 40.3% in Russian. 70.9% of respondents are Kazakhs, 17.5% are Russians and 11.6% are representatives of other nationalities. The data are weighted by such parameters as gender, age and place of residence (city-village) of respondents. The maximum margin of error with a 95% probability does not exceed 3%. The response rate was 15%. The survey was implemented by MediaNet International Centre for Journalism with the support of the Foundation. Konrad Adenauer, in partnership with the PaperLab Research Center. The survey data reflect the respondents’ point of view. For more information, please contact the project coordinator Snezhana Tsoi: snezhana.tsoy@medianet.ngo.

Infographic: What People in Kazakhstan Think about the War in Ukraine

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