Saturday, April 23, 2016

Crimea Boost for Putin and Russian Government Over, Polls Show

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 23 – The boost that Vladimir Putin and the Russian government received as a result of the occupation of Crimea has now ended with polls showing that support even for the Kremlin leader has returned to pre-crisis levels and both his rating and those for other leaders and institutions are likely to decline still further.

            Having examined the latest wave of polls, journalist Anna Baydakova says that “the level of trust in the Russian authorities is returning to the pre-Crimea level” with “euphoria from the foreign policy victories yielding to a slow recognition of the crisis” Russia now finds itself it (

            Dmitry Medvedev and the Russian government are losing their status in the eyes of society, she continues, and “even the rating of Vladimir Putin is beginning to fall” as ever more people consider that there is stagnation in the country and ever fewer believe that we are moving in the correct direction. In the future, things will be worse, experts are certain.”

            According to the latest Levada Center poll, Baydakova says, “the number of citizens who consider that the authorities are not fulfilling their responsibilities before society has grown over the course of the year from 28 percent to 39 percent.  Only 18 percent” think otherwise, down from 24 percent last year.

            The number who say that the country is moving along a path of stable development is so low that it is below the level of error for the survey, and the number of those who see stagnation and growing chaos has doubled. Meanwhile, those who think the country is moving in the right direction has fallen from 60 percent in 2014 to 41 percent now.

            Putin’s rating remains high but it also has fallen from 83 percent to 73 percent over the last year, figures that are still higher than in 2014 when he was approved by 71 percent.  Moreover, the number of those who say they would support yet another term for Putin has increased over this period from 57 percent to 65 percent.

            But these figures are less meaningful than they would be in a democratic society, the Levada Center’s Denis Volkov says.  In Russia, people ask “if not Putin then who” and that means they tend to say they support him. But, he adds in Baydakova’s words, “high approval does not mean great love.”

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