Nearly 40% of Bulgarians want out of Nato as pro-Russian propaganda strengthens

Nearly 40% of Bulgarians want out of Nato as pro-Russian propaganda strengthens
By bne IntelliNews June 5, 2022

38% of Bulgarians would vote for the country’s exit from Nato in case of a referendum, a poll carried out for the Globsec Trends annual report showed on June 3. The rising anti-Nato sentiment comes amid stronger than ever pro-Russian and anti-Western propaganda in the country, which is turning the public opinion on the war in Ukraine sharply.

At the same time, 50% would vote for staying in Nato – lower compared to 2021 when 54% were in favour of membership in the alliance versus 27% against it.

“Bulgaria exhibits the least Euro-Atlantic orientation among surveyed countries. It is the only country where support for leaving the Alliance has increased over the past year,” Globesec noted.

The report includes, apart from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

57% of Bulgarians still do not consider Russia to be a security threat to the country despite its invasion of Ukraine, and 30% consider Russia to be the most important strategic partner.

The poll also showed that 70% of Bulgarians think the country should stay in the European Union, while 23% think it should leave. Although the share of EU membership supporters remains high, the opponents have increased from 17% a year ago.

The report noted that this made Bulgaria the most Eurosceptic among the nine countries.

Still, the share of Bulgarians approving Russian President Vladimir Putin has decreased to 29% from 70% a year ago.

The report also shows that, according to 33% of Bulgarians Russia is a security threat, significantly up from 2021 when their share was just 3%. However, 33% also think the US is a security threat to Bulgaria, also up from 16% a year ago.

The report said that in seven of nine countries polled, a majority perceived Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy positively. However, the impact of Russian propaganda was affecting Zelenskiy’s image in Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary.

The report’s findings were confirmed by Bulgaria’s Deputy Defence Minister Jordan Bozhilov who said on June 3 that a hybrid propaganda war has been fought strongly in Bulgaria since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine with "the enemy" stronger, Mediapool news outlet reported. He added that the war is for the minds and thoughts of Bulgarians. Bozhilov said that the fight against hybrid attacks is one of the toughest due to the existence of social media.