Putin loses some support of Russians

By Slava Tsukerman:

According to the Levada Center Survey made in late November, 2016, 29% of respondents admitted that in recent years their attitude toward the Russian President Vladimir Putin has worsened. At the same time 55% of respondents said that their attitude toward the head of state in recent years has not changed. And 14% said that their attitude toward Putin has gotten better.

Almost three-quarters of Russians still believe that Putin “sincerely wants to improve the welfare of the population.”

24% of respondents believe that he will manage to do it.

48% expressed the fear that the bureaucracy and the lack of a good team will not let Putin to do it.

23% of respondents said they doubt the willingness and desire of Putin to fulfill his campaign promises.

Pollsters also asked the respondents why so many people trust Putin.

28% Russians believe that Putin’s popularity built on the fact that “he had successfully and adequately cope with the country’s problems.”

39% hope that the president will be able to cope with the problems in future.

29% of respondents believe that Putin is popular because “people do not see anyone else they could rely upon.”

Survey showed that even people who support Putin often have negative attitude to the rest of Russian government.

Among the questions of the survey was a question: “What, in your opinion, is more important for people who now hold power in Russia: prosperity of the country, or the preservation and strengthening of their own power?”

30% answered: the prosperity of the country;

58% – Preserving and strengthening their own power;

11% – found it difficult to answer the question.

It’s interesting that approval of their government by Russians today is much higher then it was in time of Perestroika. Respondents were asked to characterize the present government and the answers were:

31% of the respondents found it “Criminal and corrupt”. (In 1998 the figure was 63%)

26% found it “Bureaucratic”. (In 1998 the figure was 22%)

23% found it ”Legitimate”. (In 1998 the figure was 12%)

23% found the power “Foreign to the interests of the people”. (In 1998 the figure was 41%)

19% considered the government “Strong”. (In 1998 the figure was 2%)

14% found the government “Respected by people”. (In 1998 the figure was 2%)

11% found the government “Parasitic”. (In 1998 the figure was 18%)

7% found the government “Competent”. (In 1998 the figure was 3%)

Respondents were asked: “Which of the following statements about the leadership of the country is closest to your view?”

58% of respondents chose the answer: “The people we elect to be authorities, quickly forget about our worries, do not take into account the interests of people”. (In 1998 the figure was 45%)

27% of respondents chose the answer:  “Authorities is a special group of people, the elite, who cares only for their personal interests; they do not care for people’s interests”. (In 1998 the figure was 29%)

10% chose the answer:

“Our authorities have the same interests, as all the people”. (In 1998 the figure was 15%)

6% found it “Difficult to answer”. (In 1998 the figure was 11%)


In spite of the fact that that Russians obviously are losing some respect to their government, the survey also shows that they are losing respect to democracy.

35% of respondents believe that Russians constantly need “strong hand” to rule over them. (in 1998 the figure was 25%)

37% believe that “There are situations (such as now), when Russians need to concentrate all power in single hands.” (In 1998 the figure was 16%)

Only 21% of respondents believe that “In no case all power should be given into the hands of one person”. (In 1998 the figure was 44%)

At the same time there are clear signs that Russian society is moving into the direction of a mindset closer to the Western mentality.

In the previous years the number of Russians who prefer the patriotic rhetoric to their own material well-being was growing. This year shows the change.

Responding to the questions about what kind of state Russians would like to see in their country in future, the majority choose the answers, showing that the only important thing for them is their and their families well-being.

33% of respondents said that their own material well-being is more important than the state politics.  A year ago only 27% of respondents thought so.

In March 2014, when the Crimea became part of Russia, only 22% of respondents considered the welfare of the family more important than the political position of their state.

At the same time the number of those, who see Russia as a country with “very special traditions and a special way of development” has shrunk. In April 2014, 21% of Russians believed into “the special path of Russia’s development”, in November 2015 – 24%. Now the count was – 16%. Which is close to the results of 2002: 14%.

33% of the respondents support the vision of Russia as a country “with a market economy, democratic institutions, human rights, like the Western countries, but with its own way of life”.


Among the questions of the survey was also this one: “When you hear about the ‘special Russian way’, what first comes to your mind?”

29% of respondents meant under the special Russian way “the economic development of the country, where the authorities are more concerned about the population than the interests of the elite.” A year earlier, this definition was supported by only 20%, but in the years 2008-2014 it was supported by 30% or more citizens.

Only 10% of the respondents now see the “special Russian way” as “an opposition of values ​​and traditions of Russia to the values and traditions of the West”. A year ago that point of view was shared by 20% of respondents!

Nevertheless only a small number of respondents (8%) believe that Russia’s development must not deviate at all from the development of other countries. This figure does not reach a stable 10% of the last eight years.

64% of respondents said that the main characteristic of a country’s great power is high welfare of the citizens. Not long ago, in May 2016, only 41% of Russians believed that the high welfare represents a great power.

Over the past six months the number of those who believes that the term “great power” refers to the economic and industrial potential of the country has increased significantly. 58% of respondents thought so in November 2016, while only 39% believed it in May.

In May 24% of respondents associated the concept of “great power” with “heroic past” and 21% – with “the scope and expanse of the country.”

Now only 10% of the respondents share such beliefs.

The deputy director of the Levada Center, Alexei Grazhdankin in his interview to RBC newspaper, comes to the conclusion that the Western model is becoming more acceptable to Russians. He thinks that the expectation of potential confrontation with the West, which was very prominent in 2014-2015, now is coming to an end.

“One cannot say that the respondents are interested in the economy,” – says Grazhdankin. – “Rather, they assess the actions of the government on the basis of how it solves their problems. For them, the state symbols, such as the army and the history are still important, but the material well-being is more important. People find the state’s great power more in economical than in political and military terms.”

Political analyst of RBC Abbas Gallyamov also notes the decline in anti-Western sentiment and sentiment of supporters of the “special path of Russian development.” “It is obvious that people are tired of confrontation. It is impossible to stay so long in a feverish state, in which Russian society was living for so long. “

Gallyamov compared the today’s situation to the pre-WWI 1914, when Europe experienced a surge of patriotism and militancy, which was replaced by fatigue and anti-war mood in a few years. According to Galliamov, the authorities may feel this people attitude, which results with “peace-loving message of the president’s rhetoric and the policy of loosening nuts.”



Updated: December 27, 2016 — 8:45 am
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