Moscow (Times Of Ocean)- A new independent poll released on Thursday said Vladimir V. Putin’s approval rating has reached levels unseen in years, as many Russians rally around the flag despite mounting international pressure.
According to a poll conducted by Levada Center, an independent pollster in Moscow, 83% of Russians approve of Mr. Putin’s actions, up from 69% in January. The survey showed that many other government institutions, as well as the governing party, have also improved.
Observers believe Russian polls do not accurately reflect public sentiment, as many people answer in a way they consider socially acceptable, but they are considered useful tools in gauging people’s moods.
The state-run media portrays a world where there is no war with Ukraine for many Russians. Their country is instead undertaking a “special military operation” to root out far-right extremists in a brotherly nation that has gone off track and has been pushed by Western countries to turn against Moscow.
Several independent media outlets in Russia have been silenced by the Kremlin, causing some to flee or suspend operations, and others to self-censor. Social media platforms, including Facebook, and major foreign news outlets have been blocked by Russia, and anyone spreading “false information” about its invasion of Ukraine could face up to 15 years in prison. Human rights activists report that thousands have been arrested at antiwar protests in the past few weeks.
More than 1,600 people in Russia participated in the poll by Levada, which has been declared a “foreign agent” in Russia; the margin of error was not more than 3.4 percentage points.
Levada director Denis Volkov said the initial shock and confusion many Russians felt at the start of the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has been replaced with the belief that Russia is under siege and its people must rally around their leader.
As Mr. Volkov stated, “the confrontation with the West has consolidated people,” adding that some respondents said that while they generally did not support Mr. Putin, now was the time.
Those people believe that “everyone is against us,” he said, and that “Putin defends us, otherwise we would be eaten alive.”
Volkov compared the mood in Russia today with the aftermath of the annexation of Crimea in 2014, although the mood is much darker now.
“There is no euphoria, since this time the situation is much more serious and complex,” he said. “There are victims, and it is unclear when it will all end.”