Russian pollster says approval for Putin at 12-year low

Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:33am EST
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By Alissa de Carbonnel

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Concerns over Russian President Vladimir Putin's ability to improve living standards have pushed his public approval rating to its lowest in more than 12 years, an independent polling agency said on Thursday.

A survey by the Levada agency found that 62 percent of respondents voiced approval for Putin's performance in Russia's highest office, down from 65 percent in December.

That is still higher than many Western leaders. But the figure from the January 18-21 survey was the lowest since June 2000, a month after the start of his first presidential term.

His approval rating in the monthly survey has fluctuated since he started a third term in May from a high of 69 percent that month to 63 percent in August and November.

"This is a very stable trend: Falling confidence, the declining legitimacy of the authorities," Levada director Lev Gudkov said.

The most important factor was "the loss of belief that Putin can guarantee an economic path for the country that leads to an improvement in living standards".

The former KGB officer's approval rating exceeded 70 percent for most of his 2000-2008 presidency, a time of spectacular growth driven by rising world oil prices, and sometimes rose above 80 percent.

Inflation overtook wage increases in Russia for the first time after the global financial crisis and economic growth has not fully recovered, coming in at 3.7 percent last year after averaging 7 percent during Putin's first stint as president.   Continued...

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks on during the recording of the traditional televised New Year's address to the nation in Moscow, December 27, 2012. REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool