Kenneth Rapoza

Kenneth Rapoza, Contributor

Covering Brazil, Russia, India & China.

2/29/2012 @ 11:27AM |772 views

Status Quo Returns To Russian Politics; Positive U.S. View In Decline

Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin sets ...

Call me President Putin. спасибо.

With the presidential elections just four days away on March 4, the status quo is fast returning to Russia’s political landscape. According to recent polls by the Levada Center in Moscow, 46% say that Russia is heading in the right direction, up from a low of just 36% in August and just 38% recorded during the tumultuous parliamentary elections in early December.

The 46% number is equal to what respondents said in January 2011.  Moreover, just 35% of those asked said that Russia was not heading in the right direction, the lowest number in 13 months.

Opinion polls also suggest a leveling off of disdain for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, with 65% saying they approve, up from a low of 63% in December.  Opposition parties and their voters took to the streets that month to protest what they said were rabid anti-Democratic elections that saw Putin’s United Russia party force party staffers to vote for their party and stuff ballots in a number of districts. No criminal charges were made. Despite the allegations, United Russia lost over 70 seats in the State Duma.  The party is still by and large the most powerful political force in the country, with the Communist Party in a distant second.  UR has over 220 seats in the parliament. The Communists have just 90.

Putin remains the most trusted politician in the country and his rating has been unchanged for several months.  Around 40% of the country call Putin the most trusted man in Russian politics, more so than current president Dmitri Medvedev who comes in with just 26% of the total vote.  Russian billionaire and New York Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov gets 8%.

Russians see the world differently than their Western counterparts and the U.S. is still viewed with caution. According to Levada, Russians are growing ever more suspicious about the Washington– a steadily declining minority believes that relations with the U.S. should be at the center of Russia’s foreign policy. European countries are more popular among Russians in this respect, while China and India are growing in importance in the eyes of ordinary Russians.  Around 34% of respondents said Russian’s foreign policy should be focused more on China and India, with just 18% saying Russia should move to build closer economic and political ties with the U.S.

Russia’s general attitude towards the U.S. is also in decline, though still mostly positive. In January 2012, 42% of respondents said they saw the U.S. mostly positive, down from 58% in December. It is the lowest number of positive responses in the last year.  Meanwhile, 31% of respondents said they viewed the U.S. mostly negatively, up from 18% in December and the highest number of negative responses in the last 12 months.

Putin is likely to be elected president on Sunday.  Under Putin, Russia will most likely continue making efforts toward greater regional integration
with its neighbors. The majority of Russians generally have rather positive feelings regarding Ukraine and Belarus.

Russia’s largest investment company, Troika Dialog, said about Russia’s economic policies under Putin, “We remain cautious about the country’s willingness and readiness to carry out deeper economic reforms. They will of course continue, but very gradually and slowly.”

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  • Irene Guy Irene Guy 11 months ago

    I would very much like to hear something positive about Russian federation from the US media. Honestly, I would…
    Prof. Stephen Kohen would agree with me, it is easier to find a black cat in the dark room than a positive news about Russia.
    Quote, “Meanwhile, presumably on the assumption that Russia’s political sovereignty at home is less than our own, Washington has pursued intrusive “democracy-promotion” measures that flagrantly trespass on Moscow’s internal affairs. This practice began in the 1990s with actual directives from Washington to Moscow ministries and with legions of onsite U.S. “advisers” and it continues today — recently, for example, with the American vice president lobbying in Moscow against Putin’s return to the Russian presidency and with the new U.S. ambassador’s profoundly ill-timed meeting with leaders of Moscow’s street protests.

    In short, blaming Putin for anti-Americanism in Russia, as the U.S. State Department and media do, ignores the real cause: Twenty years of American military and diplomatic policies have convinced a large part of Russia’s political class (and intelligentsia) that Washington’s intentions are aggressive, aggrandizing and deceitful — anything but those of a partner. (In that context, part of the Russian elite has criticized Putin for being “pro-American.”)

  • Kenneth Rapoza Kenneth Rapoza, Contributor 11 months ago

    Irene: This article did not blame anyone for anything. It simply stated a Levada Center poll. Also, this page at Forbes has been pretty positive on Russia. Surf around.