Home people Putin’s Domestic Approval Rating Reaches Highest Level In Five Years

Putin’s Domestic Approval Rating Reaches Highest Level In Five Years

Putin’s Domestic Approval Rating Reaches Highest Level In Five Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin has his highest approval rating among Russians since September 2017, according to a poll released Wednesday by the independent Moscow-based Levada Center, indicating popularity back home for the Russian leader soared while he was widely criticized abroad for launching a brutal war on Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting Thursday in Moscow.

SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

The poll, conducted from March 24-30 among 1,632 Russian adults, found 83% of Russians support Putin’s activities as president, up 12% from Levada’s February survey conducted in the days leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine launched February 24.

Sentiments about Russia generally also experienced a sharp uptick, as 69% of respondents said they believe Russia is going in the right direction, up 17% from Levada’s February poll.

Despite questions about any Russian organization’s independence from the country’s authoritarian government, Levada’s polling is likely the best proxy for Russian public opinion: FiveThirtyEight describes Levada as a “respected, independent pollster,” and a 2016 paper led by Columbia University professor Timothy Frye found Putin’s approval rating polls are generally reflective of public opinion.

Crucial Quote
Levada’s director Denis Volkov explained to the New York Times why he believes Putin’s popularity soared among Russians: “The confrontation with the West has consolidated people,” and many believe “Putin defends us, otherwise we would be eaten alive.”

Key Background
Russians do not have access to much accurate information about the war in Ukraine, as the Kremlin has tightened its grip on the narrative in Russia over the last month, making any reference to Russia’s military offensive as a “war” or “invasion” a crime punishable by up to 15 years in jail. Levada was an early victim of Putin’s information crackdown, as the Russian government labeled the polling firm as a foreign agent in 2016 in a move Levada attributed to “political censorship.” Despite Putin’s surging domestic popularity, many internationally have condemned him for ordering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including U.S. President Joe Biden, who called Putin a “war criminal” earlier this month. The International Criminal Court is investigating Russia for war crimes in Ukraine, though Putin himself is unlikely to face justice.

Further Reading
Faced with foreign pressure, Russians rally around Putin, poll shows. (New York Times)

How The War In Ukraine Might Change Putin’s Popularity Among Russians (FiveThirtyEight)

Read More