Study: 59% of Bulgarians Disapprove of Putin's Actions, 23% Do Not Hide their Support

Society | June 20, 2022, Monday // 12:27
Bulgaria: Study: 59% of Bulgarians Disapprove of Putin's Actions, 23% Do Not Hide their Support @Radio Free Europe Bulgaria

For more than 50 percent of Bulgarians, media reports about the war in Ukraine are rather unreliable, with one in three saying they encounter fake news every day or almost every day, according to a Gallup International Balkan study. Bulgarian public media in general manage to compensate the larger audience of commercial operators with more tangible trust from consumers, according to another conclusion of the sociological agency. The independent drilling for the information environment in our country was conducted among 1003 adult Bulgarians between 2 and 10 June 2022 and is representative of the adult population of the country.

The war

58.8% in Bulgaria say that they rather disapprove of Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine. However, 23.3% do not hide that they rather approve of these actions. Among the second group are mostly older people, respectively, supporters of political forces that are traditionally more pro-Russian.

A similar structure of opinion was reported in a similar question in a previous Gallup International Balkan study. It is possible that there is a certain social desirability in these answers, as well as "hidden support" for the war in Ukraine. However, a deliberate study on these topics should identify potential dimensions.

At the same time, 50.7% find that the information that the media in Bulgaria reports about the war in Ukraine is generally rather unreliable. Rather reliable, say 25.9%. The others hesitate. The data are worrying about the overall trust in the media environment, although the answers to the question may reflect the traditional skepticism in such cases.

Here, the oldest people react with more serious confidence in the media information - which clearly corresponds to more traditional views. However, this in turn raises some concerns about potential levels of vigilance among older people regarding potential misinformation.

Fake news

Against this background, 35% testify that they encounter news that they can define as fake, every day or almost every day. 24.1% report fake news several times a month, and 11.3% at least once a month. 8% were less likely to detect them, and about one-fifth of the responses showed fluctuations in frequency determination.

Four years ago, the Gallup International Association conducted a similar comparative study, including in Bulgaria. A comparison with years ago clearly shows that if now the share of evidence of daily fake news is 35%, it has actually increased by 12 points compared to the previous study. The shares of a rare encounter with fakes are falling. The "gray zone" of those who cannot determine also falls. Apparently, over time, awareness of this problem is growing, and public perception of the frequency of its occurrence is growing.

Of course, two points in time are not enough to mark a trend. But the palpable feeling of the rise of fake news is a worrying enough symptom.

Sources of information

The main declared source of information, in general, remains television viewing - 53.1% of respondents cite television as the number one source. Immediately after that come social networks on the Internet - 22.3%. 16.6% cite other Internet sites as the main source. Far behind, radio and newspaper reading remain the main sources of information. For young groups, however, social media is now the absolute number one, followed by other web pages.

Of the Bulgarian televisions, the public television – BNT (32.5%) is naturally perceived as the most objective in terms of information, followed by large private televisions (28.1%) and smaller private televisions (15.9%).

In general, the Bulgarian media are preferred to the foreign ones - 39% say that the Bulgarian media are a reliable source, while 28.3% would prefer foreign ones. However, the share of the hesitant is not small either - 32.7%. The latter means that either such a question does not exist in front of the respondents, or the trust in the media environment is actually shaken.

When it comes to public trust, the public media in our country as a whole obviously manage to "equalize the result" of the commercial media, and practically equal shares of 33.8% and 35% respectively choose one of the two types of media. This is serious news against the background of the fact that the major commercial media have a significantly greater coverage and opportunities. National television and radio apparently manage to awaken a sense of authenticity against the background of market logic.

An additional indicator in this direction is the potential preference by type of media ownership - Bulgarian ownership is preferred (35.5%) over foreign (27.9%), and here the share of fluctuation is most noticeable (36.6%).

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