Russian support for President Vladimir Putin has soured in recent months, according to recent polling, and analysts say it is due in large part to the government’s handling of pensions.
> In a poll by the independent Levada Centre, 39% of Russians listed Putin as a politican they trust. That is a 20% decrease from November 2017, when Putin was named by 59% of Russians, according to the same polling agency.
> The Levada polls are the latest to show a strong backlash as the Kremlin pushes unpopular social reforms to relieve pressure on the budget. This month, 45% of Russians told FOM (Public Opinion Foundation), a polling agency close to the Kremlin, they would vote for Putin if elections were held this Sunday. That rating was down from 67% at the beginning of the year.
The United Russia Party, currently in power and closely aligned with Putin, is experiencing a drop in support as well. FOM revealed that support for the party dropped nearly 20 percent from the beginning of the year to just 31 percent.
> “People think that the state is trying to solve its problems at the expense of the population,” Lev Gudkov, the head of Levada, told Vedomosti, a Russian business newspaper. “It’s encroaching on something the people consider their own – their pensions savings.”
Changes to pensions, which include raising the retirement age for men and women to 65 and 60, respectively, were signed into law last week.
> Putin built political support in the 2000s mainly through a reputation for economic growth and stability after a post-Soviet transition that was financially ruinous for many. As Russia’s economy has stalled in the past half-decade, support for Putin has become more closely associated with Russia’s geopolitical stance as a bulwark to western influence. Support for Putin waned after mass protests in Moscow in 2011, but jumped when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, portrayed domestically as a return to Russia’s great power status.