Published on 12 May 2023
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Piercing the fog of war: Measuring Russian public opinion via online search data

This report is currently unavailable while under journal review

As the war in Ukraine continues into its second year, it is critical for policymakers and
analysts to obtain accurate assessments of the state of current Russian public opinion.
However, existing survey data from within the Russian Federation is widely considered to
be unreliable as a result of self-censorship, response bias, and suspected manipulation of
survey results.

This report uses web search data collected from within Russia via Google and Yandex in
order to proxy for survey measures of Russian public opinion, including political dissent,
household financial security, and personal life satisfaction.

Our results suggest that, contrary to official Russian public opinion sources, levels of
Russian life satisfaction may be near their lowest levels in a decade, while levels of online
dissent have spiked during moments of failure in the prosecution of the war, most notably
in response to rising casualties and efforts by the Kremlin at military mobilisation.

Press release: Online search data shows Russian morale remained low and ‘tacit dissent’ spiked after invasion of Ukraine


Dr Roberto Foa

Assistant Professor in Politics and Public Policy

Roberto Stefan Foa is an Assistant Professor in Politics and Public Policy. He obtained his BA from the University of Oxford and PhD from Harvard University. He is currently a...

Roula Nezi

Roula Nezi is Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Surrey and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her research examines developments in public opinion and political...

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