This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
A new survey shows the number of Russians who regard President Vladimir Putin as Russia’s most trusted politician has fallen significantly over the past year.
The survey released on October 8 was conducted between September 20-26 by the independent pollster Levada Center and asked respondents to list five or six politicians whom they trusted the most.
Putin was first with 39 percent, and was followed by ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who each enjoyed the trust of 15 percent of Russians. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was fourth, with 10 percent.
The survey found that trust in Putin had fallen nine percentage points since June and a total of 20 percentage points since November.
A separate question found that the least trusted politician was Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, while Zhirinovsky was second with 20 percent, and Putin third with 13 percent.
Putin last week signed into law an extremely unpopular bill that will gradually increase the state retirement age to 60 for women and 65 for men.
Most ordinary Russians are deeply opposed to the reforms, which sparked rare street protests across the country.
Putin, who has been either president or prime minister since 2000, won the March presidential election with more than 76 percent of the vote.
Putin’s lowest-ever rating in a Levada poll came in August 2013, when 30 percent of respondents said he was a trusted politician.
His popularity surged to more than 80 percent in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.