What social groups support pro-Russian parties in Eastern Europe? This paper demonstrates that pro-Russian parties in Eastern Europe tend to have electorates with significantly more Euroskeptic attitudes than voter bases of mainstream parties. Importantly, support for pro-Russian parties is not related to an individual’s ideological (right or left) leanings. Because of their Euroskeptic attitudes, social groups supporting pro-Russian parties are far more susceptible to disinformation and, in particular, the anti-EU narratives spread by the Kremlin.
These findings explain the endorsement of pro-Russian narratives and social attitudes which are indirectly favorable to the Kremlin by political leaders whose electorates harbor anti-Western sympathies. It also sheds light on the nature of Russia’s information operations that seem to be opportunistic rather than ideological in nature, but also limited in scope by the structural conditions in targeted societies.