In under a year, Russians’ faith in their president Vladimir Putin has fallen by 20 percentage points, Levada Center reports. In November last year before the start of the presidential election campaign, this figure was 59%, but by September 2018 it had dropped to 39%. In the period between June and September, he lost 9 percentage points. The distrust rating simultaneously grew from 7% to 13%.
The pension reform and socio-economic issues have affected the population’s faith in all office-holders. Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu’s ratings fell from 23% to 15%, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s from 19% to 10%, and the frail trust in Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was 10% as opposed to 11% one year ago (and his distrust rating jumped from 19% to 31%).
Levada Center sees a similar picture in the trust dynamic towards state and public institutes. The president’s institute had the complete trust of 58% of respondents (compared to 75% in 2017), and for the first time, the army also gave the head of state this rating (66%).
Social tension has been growing since the end of 2017, says Levada Center director Lev Gudkov. The Crimean euphoria has come to an end, people are tired of the constant state of mobilization, and in the last four years, citizens’ real income has decreased by 11-13%, whereas prices continue to rise. People are also afraid of a major war breaking out, the expert adds.
Tensions stopped increasing in the period of presidential elections in March 2018, but resumed in April, when the government announced a tax hike, and prices began to climb. In June, when the pension reform was announced, all the causes of concern merged into one, and people gradually began to lose confidence in Putin, Lavrov and Shoygu – the people responsible for Russia’s foreign policy, Gudkov observes.
The population clearly expressed a sense of injustice at the bill to raise the pension age, the sociologist notes. People believe that the government is trying to solve its problems at the population’s expense, by encroaching on something the people consider their own – pension savings. “There was a great expectation that Putin would revoke the law,” the Levada Center director recalls. More than a third of Russians said that they thought less of the president after his statement on the reform.
All sociological services have been documenting a decline in the government’s rating in general and the president’s rating in particular, Vedomosti writes. According to the Public Opinion Foundation, Putin’s electoral rating compared to the fourth quarter of 2017 has fallen from 68% to 45%, and people’s confidence in him from 80% to 58%. The sharpest drop came after the announcement of the pension reform: in May, 76% of respondents trusted Putin, but by July, only 61% did.
According to the Russian Public Opinion Research Center, Putin’s trust ratings fell from 52.4% at the end of November 2017 to 36.8% at the end of September 2018.