Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has retained sky-high approval ratings despite an economic crisis that has put hundreds of thousands out of work and cut 20 percent off the value of the rouble, a poll showed on Thursday, according to Reuters via The Star.
Eighty-three percent of Russians polled by the independent Levada Centre said they approved of Putin`s leadership, the same level recorded in October.
President Dmitry Medvedev, a Putin ally, saw his rating fall 1 percentage point from October to 75 percent, the poll showed.
Since that poll on Oct. 17-20, the value of the rouble has fallen by almost 20 percent against the dollar, the sharpest fall since a 1998 crisis ravaged the economy.
Russia`s unemployment rate has climbed 20 percent to 1.5 million since the start of October, Medvedev said on Wednesday.
The percentage of Russians who believe the country is going in the right direction has fallen from 54 to 43 percent since October, the poll showed.
But Putin, Russian president from 2000-2008, has avoided being tarnished by this disillusionment, said Lev Gudkov, the director of the Levada Centre.
"From early in his presidency we noticed that Putin`s rating did not have a practical character," Gudkov said.
"He puts himself forward as a symbolic figure, as a personification of people`s hopes. It`s not for nothing we call him the Teflon president because criticism doesn`t stick."
Medvedev`s popularity consistently tracks that of his mentor Putin, Gudkov said.
The full impact of the crisis had not yet been felt in Russia, said Gudkov, whose pollsters estimate that only 10-15 percent of people have seen their lives get significantly worse as a result of the economic crisis.
The Levada Centre polled 1,600 Russians on Jan. 16-19 in a poll with a margin of error of 3 percent.