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AbstractBackground and aim: Pollution of seas, rivers and lakes are large problems all over the world. In order to understand the global problems it is important to raise awareness on the local level (WSSD 2002). Global sustainable development issues are often ranked as more important than local ones (Lindström 2003a; Uzzell 2000). People perceive the protection of water as very important and most urgent to deal with (Lindström and Küller submitted 2006). The present study discusses attitudes towards global and local water issues in Russia and in Sweden. A comparative study was performed among people living close to one river in Kaliningrad and one in Sweden. Eutrophication is a problem in the Baltic Sea as well as in the rivers chosen for this study (Umansky et al 2003). UNEP-GIWA (Baltic Sea report 2005) emphasizes the importance of implementing the EU Water Framework Directive also in Russia. The main aim of the present study was to analyze attitudes, self-reported behavior, knowledge and participation. The study is part of the EU project ‘Seagull’ aiming at contributing to social, economic and environmentally sustainable development throughout the south-eastern Baltic Sea Region. Method: A questionnaire used in previous studies (Lindström 2003b; 2005) was translated into Russian. It included statements on global and local water issues, behavior and knowledge. Questions on perceived information and willingness to participate in projects were also asked. People living close to the Gurievka river in Kaliningrad and the Lyckeby river in Sweden replied.Findings: Global water issues were more important than local ones. There were differences in attitudes between the countries in separate local items and also in self-reported behaviour. The river in Sweden was more often used as a recreation area. People in Kaliningrad were more willing to participate in projects. Information and education about water issues was performed through newspapers, schools and in Sweden also through the association ‘the Lyckeby River Water Management Association’. People were not satisfied with the information. Conclusion: There is a need for further information, education and local projects in both countries in order to raise awareness on water issues. The willingness to participate in projects in Russia should be supported. One suggestion is to investigate the possibilities for creating an association (like the one in Sweden) in Kaliningrad in order to facilitate the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive in Russia.