Russian President Vladimir Putin has regained his lead in the popularity rankings over Russia’s regional governors, but his disapproval rating remains slightly more than those of the regional leaders, according to a recent poll by independent pollster the Levada Center.
Putin’s personal popularity remains high, and after taking a hit during the coronacrisis it has recovered from a low of 53 in April to 60 as of July, with those that disapproved of him falling two percentage points in June to 33 in July. 6% remain undecided, according to independent pollster the Levada Center. Trust in Putin, however, remains at its lowest level of 26% in July, the pollster said.
The regional governors have been enjoying a steady increase in their popularity as Russia’s regions continue to diversify and after the Kremlin poured billions of dollars into regional infrastructure investment, first as part of hosting the World Cup, and now as part of the 12 National Projects. The quality of life in many of Russia’s regions has improved dramatically as a result and about a third of the 85 regions are doing well.
This progress has translated into improving approval ratings, but the governors have lost some ground to Putin in recent months. In March the governors overtook Putin in the popularity stakes with an approval rating of 65 vs Putin’s 63, but since then they have seen their popularity fall by 7pp to 58 as of July, although their disapproval rate remains 1pp behind Putin’s with 32% vs the president’s 33% disapproval rating. 10% remain undecided on the performance of the governors, according to Levada.
Despite the multiple crises, the Russian public remains pretty evenly divided on which way the country is going, although the figure for those that think it is going in the “right” direction is down 10pp since the start of the year.
In January 52% of respondents said that the country was going in the right direction and 39% said it was going in the wrong direction, with only 10% undecided.
In July the number of respondents that say Russia is going in the right direction has fallen to 42%, with 40% saying it is going in the wrong direction and with most of the fall from those in the “right” camp moving to the “undecided” camp, which is up 8pp to 18%, or nearly one in five Russians.
At the same time, the propensity to protest with economic demands has also increased by 4pp since the start of the year. Those that said they may protest have increased from 26% in February to 30% in July, and those that said they will definitely participate in such protests have increased from 24% in February to 29% in July, which suggests a solidifying anti-government resolve that is on display in the mass protests in Khabarovsk in July.
Eight out of ten (83%) of respondents have heard about the protest actions in Khabarovsk. Almost every second one of them had a positive attitude towards people who took part in these actions, Levada reports.
The rising anti-government sentiment is largely driven by the increasingly difficult financial position many Russians find themselves in: 71% of Russian residents between May and July began to spend less and save more; 52% began to spend savings on current needs; 26% borrowed from relatives or friends; and 18% took loans, according to a report by Levada in July.
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