Putin is Less Likeable and Trustworthy Than a Year Ago: Poll

Putin looks quizzical
Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting in his the Novo-Ogaryovo Residence outside Moscow, Russia, February 3. A new poll shows fewer Russians trust or like Putin, but support for his foreign policy and re-election remains solid. Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has become less likable and trustworthy in the eyes of the Russian people, according to a survey by independent pollster the Levada Center.

The poll, conducted earlier in March, asked a sample of 1,600 Russians from across the country to answer a number of questions as to how they view Putin. The center has been doing the survey almost every year since 2000.

When asked if they trust Putin, 73 percent of respondents answered that they either trust him "entirely" or "largely trust him." However the figure has dropped by 10 percent compared to the same poll last year, when 83 percent of Russians either entirely or largely trusted the president.

When asked to do a word association with Putin, 30 percent found him "likeable"—seven percent fewer than last year—and 8 percent felt he was admirable, compared to 10 percent last year.

The survey also posed multiple-choice questions about what they thought Putin's best and worst qualities are. The most notable drop was among those who felt Putin was "a man of strong will, decisiveness and great energy," as 31 percent indicated that is why the Russian leader appealed to them, compared with 41 percent in 2015.

Meanwhile, 11 percent felt that Putin's biggest flaw was that "the interests of the people are alien to him." Though this may not seem like a huge figure, it is a record high since 1999, when Putin succeeded the unpopular Boris Yeltsin. At the time, only 3 percent of people surveyed felt Putin was out of touch with the common people and even as late as March last year this figure had only gone up to 7 percent.

However, none of this appears to have affected Putin's chances of retaining power: After a covert campaign in Ukraine and an aerial campaign in Russia, 22 percent of people support Putin's foreign policy—a record high since his return for a third term as president in 2012.

Indeed, only 3 percent of respondents chose to watch a BBC report on the news program Panorama that accused Putin of corruption—29 percent were aware of the report, but didn't watch it.

The reaction to the program among those who were aware of it in any way was primarily negative, as 54 percent felt it was either "propaganda against the whole of Russia" or "slander targeting Vladimir Putin."

Two years from the next presidential election, 65 percent of Russians would like Putin to run and be re-elected again, compared to 57 percent last year.