Staunton, July 7 -- In order to avoid discussion of systemic issues, Vladimir Putin via his Direct Line program and otherwise has made a fetish out of being the good tsar who can reach down to solve the most petty and local problems. But a new poll shows that more than half of Russians don’t think he should be addressing such issues.
Instead, a majority says he should be focusing on bigger issues, something he has been loath to do because those would involve either a change in direction of his policies or discussions that would almost inevitably deepen rather than paper over existing divisions among Russians about past, present and future.
According to a new Public Opinion Foundation poll, 52 percent of Russians do not think that the president should occupy himself with the solution of local problems. Those problems should be dealt with by local officials (29 percent). The president should deal with bigger ones (32 percent) (znak.com/2017-07-07/bolshe_poloviny_rossiyan_schitayut_chto_prezident_ne_dolzhen_reshat_mestechkovye_problemy).
But this is a narrow majority: 44 percent of the sample said that the president should solve local problems. Of these, 12 percent said local officials aren’t solving them, eight percent say that the president has to intervene to solve them, seven percent that this is the responsibility of the president, and six that “the president should control the work of bureaucrats” in this way.
Dspite this, there seems little likelihood that Putin will change his approach: Not only is he going to four regions where gubernatorial elections will occur in the next two weeks (newsru.com/russia/06jul2017/runelect.html), but he has included how governors deal with citizen appeals part of the Kremlin’s rating system for them (kp.ru/daily/26701/3725947/).