Birthday-boy Putin ‘trusts his instincts’, public concurs

Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Klimentyev)
While accepting greetings on his 60th birthday, Vladimir Putin assured the media that he was not worried about opposition plans and again urged his opponents to come forward with their own constructive programs.

“If a person pretends to be a leader of something he must do something to prove that he can do something,” Putin told the reporter in the special program aired by the NTV channel on his birthday.

The president continued that in his view criticizing was very different from offering one’s own constructive agenda, even in the cases when the criticism was fair and justified. As for the current Russian opposition leaders, the president noted that often their behavior was uncivilized, but did not elaborate, saying only that he hoped that serious people would one day appear among the opposition.

Putin, who was elected for the next six-year presidential term in March this year, told the TV host that he was not following his ratings very closely. He added that he paid some attention to polls, but generally adjusted his behavior by the internal feeling of the rightness of his actions and sense of the people’s reaction to them.

He especially noted that he was checking not only “a small group of intelligentsia whom I personally respect” (apparently meaning the media), but also the “deep-rooted Russian people.”

The president said that he was sure that the overwhelming majority of the Russian population supported the authorities. As for those in the opposition they also have the right and opportunity to express their opinion in some way or another. But however bright the protests are, it is impossible to pretend that the whole population joined them – one should always remember that the majority still supports Putin.

“And this gives me the grounds to carry on with the state policy that I am still holding to this day,” the President added.

The president also noted that in due time he would give up his post without any trouble, as he did back in 2008. He reminded his interlocutor that he had voluntarily given up the “power levers” instead of trying to change the constitution.

The latest public opinion poll has confirmed Putin’s words. Sixty-four per cent of Russians hold that Putin’s rule brought the country more good than bad, while only 14 per cent have the opposite opinion. Fifty-two per cent of those polled linked positive changes with Putin’s presidency. Forty-five per cent of Russians said that successes in foreign policy were Putin’s primary achievement, 44 per cent said it was the raising of living standards, and the same share of those polled said improvement in personal security was due to Putin’s successful policy.

As for future expectations from the president, the largest share of Russians (19 per cent) said they wanted further improvement of living standards. Fourteen percent said Putin should concentrate on fighting corruption and 13 per cent wished that the president would do more for the development of Russian industry and agriculture. A further 10 per cent wanted improvement in the sphere of education and 9 per cent said they needed better pensions.

Only 1 per cent of those polled said they wanted Putin first of all to develop democracy in the country.

The All-Russian Public Opinion Center that conducted the poll noted that Putin was the first Russian leader in 25 years who received a mostly-positive assessment from population. The sociologists linked this with the fact that the people’s self-respect had restored, both in internal and foreign affairs, but also “a simply anthropological choice” of the people who linked the young and active president with strong leadership potential.