Russians twice as optimistic since Ukraine intervention - pollster

49% said they expected life in Russia to be better in three to five years, compared with only 25% at the end of December.

 People walk at the Red Square on a sunny day in Moscow, Russia March 30, 2022. (photo credit: MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS)
People walk at the Red Square on a sunny day in Moscow, Russia March 30, 2022.
(photo credit: MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS)

Twice as many Russians are optimistic about the future now, a month into Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine, as at the end of December, according to an opinion poll published on Wednesday.

In a survey of 1,500 people conducted on March 20 by the pollster FOM, which provides research for the Kremlin, 49% said they expected life in Russia to be better in three to five years, compared with only 25% at the end of December.

Four weeks into a military operation that has cost the lives of thousands of Russian and Ukrainian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians, around 13% expected life to get worse in three to five years, compared with 25% in December, according to FOM. 

When asked about life for their immediate families, 48% expected an improvement, compared with 36% three months ago.

Not all Russians are as optimistic, however.

 Plastic letters arranged to read ''Sanctions'' and solider toys are placed in front of Ukraine's and Russia's flag colors in this illustration taken February 25, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION) Plastic letters arranged to read ''Sanctions'' and solider toys are placed in front of Ukraine's and Russia's flag colors in this illustration taken February 25, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)

Alexander Sergeyev, president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, spoke of a large brain drain under Western sanctions - which were imposed in 2014 in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and have been toughened immeasurably since February.

"It's difficult to assess the scale of the losses, I believe they are large," he told a news conference, according to the Interfax news agency.

"Competing for science with the whole world is hard; we need to liberate scientists' initiative, creativity, give them the opportunity to work easily in (Russia)."

Ordinary Russians have little access to independent reporting on their country as almost all significant Russian media outlets that diverge from government policy have been closed down in the last few years.

Since Russia sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, saying it wanted to degrade its southern neighbor's military capabilities and root out people it says are dangerous nationalists, access to several Western media and social media platforms has also been restricted or cut off.

Because of the latest sanctions, many Western companies have ceased to trade in or with Russia, leading to steep price rises, shortages and hoarding of consumer goods, problems using payment systems, and the barring of flights to Western countries.

Russia's federal anti-cartel service, the FAS, said on Wednesday it had raided five firms in connection with a "sharp rise in the price of sugar, and its reduced availability in retail chains."