PUTIN’S PARADOX

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SOCIOLOGISTS REPORT A DECLINE OF PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV’S AND PREMIER PUTIN’S RATINGS

A decline in Dmitry Medvedev’s and Vladimir Putin’s ratings is reported.


The Public Opinion Foundation polled 2,000 respondents in 44 regions on October 24-25 to gauge their trust in the national leaders. Sociologists reported a decline of both President Dmitry Medvedev’s and Premier Vladimir Putin’s ratings. Trust in the former dropped from its all-time high value (62% on October 18) to 56% while the rate of distrust increased from 11% to 14%. Putin’s rating dropped from 72% to 66%, the lowest value in the course of his premiership. (By and large, his rating had been lower than that only in spring 2007.) Distrust in the premier reached its all-time high (12% against the previously logged 9%) value. United Russia’s rating meanwhile dropped 4% to 53%, that of the CPRF rose 2% to 10%.

The monthly poll conducted by the Levada-Center (1,600 respondents, October 16-19) revealed a decline in the national leaders’ rating too. Its sociologists evaluated approval of Medvedev’s performance as the president in October at 72% (against 75% a month before) and that of Putin’s as the premier at 78% (against 81%).

“Sure, we keep tabs on the rating. Marginal seasonal fluctuations are no cause for worry,” a Presidential Administration official said.

Valery Ryazansky, United Russia faction senior assistant leader, suggested that the decline in ratings reported by sociologists was within the framework of statistical error. “There are no reasons for the people to distrust the premier, the president, or the party,” he announced.

“Yes, we are trying to find out now what affected the rating,” Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said. “We analyze the premier’s statements, his appearances before general public and the events he attended… That’s a paradox, you know. The rating was fine last autumn when wages were cut and layoffs were under way. These days, salaries keep going up and layoffs are history but the rating is down.”

Aleksei Grazhdankin of the Levada-Center suggested that the parliamentary mutiny might have played its part. He said that the opinion polls were conducted in the period when the Duma opposition was bitterly protesting against what it called the rigged outcome of the election.

Public Opinion Foundation President Alexander Oslon agreed that the declining rating could be society’s reaction to the scandal fomented by the election. “Whenever conflicts rage upstairs, society becomes disturbed and it immediately tells on ratings.”

According to Grazhdankin, anti-crisis performance of the Cabinet was approved by only 8% respondents on October 16-19. Thirty-two percent appraised it as inadequate. Approval of performance figures had been approximately the same at the onset of the crisis in November 2008.

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