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Can Putin's Popularity Last?

By Samuel Greene, Graeme B. Robertson

Published: September 2, 2014 (Issue # 1826)




  • Photo: Viktor Bogorad

The confusion surrounding so much of Russia's involvement in Crimea and eastern Ukraine as well as the ensuing descent into confrontation with the West gives way to crystalline clarity in only one area: President Vladimir Putin is once again genuinely popular in Russia.

A survey conducted by the independent Levada Center pollster in August put Putin's current approval rating at 85.5 percent, a number that would cause suspicion in just about any other political context.

Nevertheless, despite questions about how honest Russians are willing to be in expressing their political affinities to pollsters, there is little reason to doubt the shift in public opinion.

Russians have rallied around the flag. It is a common occurrence in countries that find themselves at war or something akin to it, and so it is far from surprising that international conflict should have a galvanizing effect on Russian political sentiment, too.

But a closer look at the data reveals the magnitude of both Putin's achievement and the risks he may soon face.

Since September 2013, the University of North Carolina, in collaboration with the Russia Institute at King's College London, has been studying the evolution of political, economic and social sentiment among those Russians most likely to oppose Putin's rule: educated and at least moderately prosperous city-dwellers.

The key finding from our most recent survey, conducted in July of this year, is the extent to which even these Russians — Putin's toughest audience — have flocked to his side.

While only 48 percent of our sample supported Putin in October 2013, 75 percent did in July 2014.

The proportion who said Russia's leaders made them feel hopeful about the future doubled in the same period, reaching 44 percent, while the number who said they were angry at Russia's leaders halved, to 18 percent.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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