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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

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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