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Afghanistan replaces USA as greatest threat, says poll of Russians

Moscow, 9 November: External enemies may unleash a war against Russia, according to 61 per cent of recently polled respondents, down from 73 per cent in 1999.

In 1997, 44 per cent of Russians feared that foreign enemies would start a war. These figures were obtained in polls conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation in 1997, 1999 and 2001, involving 1,500 residents.

This year, 13 per cent of the respondents named the USA as the potential enemy, down from 48 per cent who said so in 1999. Just 2 per cent currently perceive China as a threat compared to 3 per cent in 1999.

This year, Chechnya was named as a possible attacker by 6 per cent of the respondents, up from 2 per cent in 1999, and Afghanistan was singled out by 19 per cent, up from 1 per cent. Russians do not perceive Japan, Germany or NATO as military enemies, compared to 3 per cent, 5 per cent and 16 per cent respectively in 1999. Britain is feared by 1 per cent of Russians, down from 6 per cent. Two years ago, Russians did not perceive Muslim countries, Georgia or Pakistan as enemies, while apprehension was expressed by 8 per cent, 3 per cent and 2 per cent of Russians respectively this year.

Although the United States tops Russians' list of potential enemies, the number of those fearing it dropped almost fourfold.

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