By James Bell, Director of International Survey Research, Pew Research Center

Special to New York Times

The Kremlin’s demand that the U.S. Agency for International Development cease its activities in Russia follows months of accusations by Vladimir Putin that recent anti-government protests in Russia are the result of meddling by the U.S. and other Western governments. However, many Russians may not be convinced that such meddling is a fact.

In the wake of the Russian presidential vote this past spring, a Pew Global Attitudes survey found that 58 percent of Russians believed the election protests were home-grown, rather than the result of Western governments attempting to destabilize Russia. Only 25 percent thought foreign powers were behind the protests. Moreover, 56 percent supported the protests for free elections, and fully 64 percent agreed that attending demonstrations gave people like themselves an opportunity to express their opinion.

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