Staunton, August 12 – The decline in Vladimir Putin’s popularity in Russia in recent years with the collapse of the so-called “Crimean consensus” has been much documented and commented upon, but his standing in Belarus, which has been declining more or less continuously since 2002, has not.
However, polls by Minsk’s Independent Institute for Social, Economic and Political Research and the Belarusian Analytic Center find that the peak of Putin’s standing among Belarusians as a leader of the Union involving their country and Belarus occurred only two years into his rule (svaboda.org/a/30101803.html in Russian, belaruspartisan.by/politic/472892/).
Since that time, the two research institutions say, as a result of various crises in the relationship between Minsk and Moscow, Putin’s standing as a possible leader of the two countries functioning as one has fallen consistently, even as Aleksandr Lukashenka’s standing with his own population has generally risen.
Putin remains respected among Belarusians, the polls find, but only as the leader of a neighboring country and not as a potential leader of the Union state. Consequently, the object of one of Putin’s much cherished policies 20 years into his reign doesn’t see him as he would like to be seen.
Whether as a result of these polls or merely a coincidence, Moscow has insisted and Minsk has agreed this week to allow a new group of Russian television channels to be distributed via cable in Belarus and thereby promote all things Russian among a population that is ever enamored of Putin (charter97.org/ru/news/2019/8/10/344335/).