Russian Confidence in Putin Ticks Past 80 Percent Despite War: State Media

A little more than 81 percent of Russians said they are confident in Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a recent poll, despite his military's recent setbacks in his invasion of Ukraine.

TASS, a Russian-state media organization, reported on Friday that confidence in the Russian leader is up by more than 1 point since last week—sitting at 81.5 percent—and that approval of his work is now at more than 78 percent, according to a poll from the state-run All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center. The survey was conducted between September 5 and September 11 and contacted 1,600 adults.

There is strong skepticism, however, about the quality of polling in Russia. In a written analysis for openDemocracy in March about polling in Moscow surrounding the invasion of Ukraine, Maxim Alyukov, a research fellow at King's Russia Institute at King's College London, said that within "autocracies, citizens are often afraid of answering pollsters' questions in general, let alone questions about politics."

"This generates a distortion known as social desirability bias—citizens lie about their real preferences, which inflates survey results" he wrote. "Russia is currently experiencing a much higher and more visible rate of repression, and this makes social desirability bias much more likely."

Russian Confidence in Putin Over 80 Percent
Above, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his press conference at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit on Friday in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. More than 81 percent of Russians are confident in Putin, according to a recent poll, despite his military's recent setbacks in his invasion of Ukraine. Contributor

Alyukov added that "state-controlled pollsters manipulate questions in order to tap into people's support for different issues," and asserted that in autocracies "opinion polls are a political weapon—and their results are far from representative."

A 2020 article about Russian opinion surveys, which was written by Eemil Mitikka, a researcher at the University of Helsinki in Finland, said that the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center has "close ties with the Kremlin." However, the article added that data from the organization "seems to also quite consistently follow the political trends and events in Russia. This indicates that it is unlikely that these numbers are simply pulled out of thin air."

The Kremlin's reportedly high approval rating comes despite the fact that Russia's military has seen major losses in its ongoing conflict with Ukraine. In recent days, the Ukrainians have regained more than 1,100 square miles of territory that Russia had previously occupied in the country's northeast and southern region.

A survey from an independent pollster, Levada, showed in March that approval of Putin's actions shot up significantly—to 83 percent—after the invasion. However, a global survey of 18 nations published by the Pew Research Center in June found that Putin has become the most unpopular leader in the world. Ninety percent of respondents said they don't have confidence in the Russian president "to do the right thing" when it comes to world affairs.

Newsweek has reached out to the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministries for comment.

Update 9/18; 10:15 p.m.: The headline on this story has been updated to clarify that the information is from Russian state media.