This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
A new opinion poll indicates that Russians’ trust in President Vladimir Putin has dropped to its lowest level in nearly a decade.
The Levada Center survey released on October 6 found 53 percent of respondents saying they trusted Putin, down from 71 percent in September 2017.
Levada said it was the lowest recorded level of trust for the Russian leader since October 2012, when 51 percent of respondents said they trusted the president.
Trust in Putin soared in 2015, a year after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula, reaching nearly 80 percent, according to Levada.
The polling echoes similar measures conducted not only by Levada, an independent pollster, but also state-funded survey companies.
Putin’s approval ratings have been dragged down by a slew of unpopular measures, including sweeping pension reform in 2019, as well as stagnating standards of living, which have seen Russian household wealth drop to levels not seen since 2012.
Putin’s current term as president is scheduled to end in 2024, but lawmakers, at the Kremlin’s behest, passed constitutional amendments paving the way for him to stay in office if he chooses.
While Putin remains the most popular politician in Russia, trust in legislators also continues to be low.
Levada’s new poll showed a decrease in trust for the lower chamber of the parliament, the State Duma — from 33 percent in 2017 to 25 percent now.
Parliamentary elections last month gave the ruling United Russia party a constitutional supermajority in the Duma, despite United Russia’s abysmal ratings.
The elections were marred by lackluster turnout, accusations of fraud and vote manipulation, and a heavy-handed campaign to eliminate any viable opposition challengers.
The level of trust in political parties also went down from 19 percent in 2017 to 17 percent now, Levada’s survey showed.
The poll was held on August 19-26 via face-to-face interviews with 1,619 people who were at least 18 years of age, residing in 137 villages, towns, and cities in 50 regions across the country. The overall margin of error was 3.4 percent.
Russia’s last, and best-known, independent pollster, Levada was designated by authorities as a “foreign agent” in 2016 — a move aimed at tarnishing its work.