August 12, 2008 / 2:28 PM / in 11 years

Nearly half Russians want S.Ossetia in Russia-poll

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MOSCOW, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Russians are divided on whether the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia should become part of their country but few believe it should remain within Georgia, a survey by independent pollster Levada showed on Tuesday.

Forty six percent of respondents said they wanted to see South Ossetia incoporated into Russia. A further 34 percent said South Ossetia should become an independent country. Only 4 percent said it should stay part of Georgia.

Levada surveyed 2,100 Russians in large cities on Saturday and Sunday during the peak of fighting between Russian and Georgian forces over South Ossetia.

When asked where their sympathies lay in the conflict, 71 percent said they sided with the South Ossetians, 2 percent said they sided with Georgia and 21 percent said they backed neither side.

"The polls shows that citizens of Russia are on the side of South Ossetia," said Denis Volkov of the Levada Centre.

Levada’s figures also found that support for Russia’s military intervention was not overwhelmingly.

A slim majority, 53 percent, said Russia should have sent its troops into South Ossetia but 36 percent were not supportive.

Humanitarian aid from Russia to South Ossetia was backed by 81 percent of Russians, Levada was told by respondents.

Because the poll was carried out at short notice, it did not look at rural areas of Russia but had been based on surveys conducted in Moscow and other large cities, Volkov said. (Reporting by Conor Sweeney; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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