Medvedev and Putin losing people’s support

AFP Photo / Alexander Nemenov
In the last half a year since the crisis hit the country, people’s approval of the president and the prime minister and their policies has decreased by 10 and 7 per cent respectively, according to VCIOM survey.

From September 2008 to February 2009, the approval rating for Dmitry Medvedev activity has fallen from 79 to 69 per cent, the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VCIOM) surveys show, while that of PM Putin has fallen from 81 to 74 per cent for the same period.

Fact box: All surveys include 1600 respondents in 153 population centres of 46 regions. The statistical error does not exceed 3.4%.

Despite the fact that economic policy meets with the approval of only 15 per cent of the population (with 33 per cent critical of it) Russians still believe that nobody could rule the state better than the current president and prime minister.

In the opinion of sociologist Mikhail Vinogradov, the head of the fund St.Petersburg Politics, as the crisis gets worse fewer people will accept the president’s and the PM’s policy. “During times of crisis it is quite a normal thing”, he says. He says rates of trust are much more important.

“Inviolability of public trust shows that people have not obtained any alternative political preferences”. Vinogradov considers the deteriorating economy to be the main challenge to state authority.

Tell people the truth!

Sociologists consider that people are least of all satisfied with the lack of attention to people and their interests, compared with which, even decreasing standards of living, falling salaries and growing unemployment rates pale into insignificance.

“According to our survey, people expect the state authorities to tell the truth about the situation in the country, how long the crisis will last and most important – what the authority is going to do to help the people”, says the head of VCIOM, Valery Fyodorov.

Most people are unaware of the real situation in the country. “Over a half the people asked in January did not know that the authority has a specified and detailed anti-crisis plan”, Fyodorov added.

Experts say that when the crisis hit Russia, the government was so caught up in fighting it, that they forgot to inform the people of their actions. Sunday’s interview of the President Dmitry Medvedev on Rossiya TV-channel was the first attempt to have an open dialogue with the people.

“The authorities now have to learn how to speak to the people while the situation is unstable and there is no economic growth, while the crisis keeps hitting the state and the economy can’t get to the bottom”, Fyodorov explains. He says this is a very unusual situation as since the year 2000 the economy has never been so bad.