Monday, March 4, 2019

Reasons Russians have for Speaking of Declines in Putin's Influence and of Falloff in FSB's Very Different, Lev Gudkov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 4 – A new Levada Center poll finds that Russians say that the influence of Vladimir Putin and the FSB on the life of Russia have declined, but what is important, the center’s director Lev Gudkov says, is that Russians know they live in a police state and that the reasons for their views of Putin and those affecting their judgments on the FSB are different.

            According to the survey, “the influence of President Vladimir Putin and the FSB on the country compared to a year ago has declined (, a finding the Kremlin professes not to understand (

            But Gudkov says that the results of the poll are quite easily explained. “We are dealing with a stable view of Russians about the system of power. This is the structure of organs of power based on the vertical and repressive institutions.” All the features promised by the Constitution are lacking (

            The poll shows, the sociologist continues, that we are “dealing with a much more realistic idea of the population about the harsh military-police structure of the powers that be.”

            “People say that the president’s influence has declined for two reasons. On the one hand, “Russians are tired of the patriotic mobilization and are ever more worried about their standard of living.”  And on the other, Putin despite his promises signed the pension reform, an action that 90 percent of the population is against.

            As for the views of the population concerning the decline of the influence of the FSB on the life of the country, Gudkov suggests there are two causes: the dominance in the media of reports about the military, which has now displaced the FSB as the number two institution after Putin, and the numerous failures of the organs including the Skripal case.

            But Putin remains the most influential figure in Russian political life by far, and he and the FSB are guarantors that there will not be any real softening of public life there anytime soon.  The latest poll results do not in any way contradict that conclusion, Gudkov suggests. 

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