By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — A survey by Russia’s main state-funded pollster shows that trust in Russian President Vladimir Putin fell in March to its lowest in 14 years.
The poll, taken last month by Russia’s Public Opinion Research Center, or VTsIOM, and released on April 27, showed those who chose Putin when asked to name a politician whom they trust, dropped to 28.3 percent in March from 29 percent the previous month and 30.6 percent in January.
Participants in the poll were asked who do they trusted and who they did not trust to solve important state issues. Putin’s name was not directly mentioned in the survey question.
Valery Fyodorov, the head of VTsIOM, was quoted by Forbes Russia as saying that respondents are more likely to say they trust Putin if given multiple choices rather than an “open-ended” format.
The decline in Putin’s popularity ratings has been a longer-term trend, even though he overwhelmingly won an election for a fourth term as president in 2018.
Since then, Putin and Kremlin-allied lawmakers in parliament have pushed through a series of controversial social and economic reforms that have angered many Russians.
These include raising the pension age and increasing value-added tax.
The latest move to introduce amendments to the constitution that would allow Putin the possibility of seeking a fifth or even sixth presidential term after his current second consecutive six-year term ends in 2024 also drew wide criticism from some Russians.
The poll’s results may also have been affected by the government’s restrictive measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.
Russia recorded its first official cases of the virus on January 31, and quickly introduced some restrictions, such as closing the border with China.
But the outbreak accelerated in April, prompting Putin to announce a long nonworking period, obliging companies to continue paying salaries to their employees. On April 28 he extended that period to May 11.
Russia has officially reported 93,558 cases of the virus, including 867 deaths, and has imposed a partial lockdown on many regions, including Moscow, the capital, with its more than 12.5 million people.