Putin scores highest ever poll rating

Russian president Vladimir Putin's approval rating has reached its highest point since he first set foot in the Kremlin over 15 years ago, according to independent Russian pollster the Levada Center.

Internationally, Putin's reputation has plummeted over the last year, as his annexation of Crimea from the territory of Ukraine and his ongoing support for Russian-speaking fighters in eastern Ukraine has severely dented relations between the West and Russia. His country has also been gripped by an economic crisis as a result of Western economic sanctions imposed on Russia and a slump in the price of oil - its main export.

However, these issues do not appear to have decreased his popularity as the Levada Center estimates that 89% of Russians now approve of Putin, while only 10% disapprove. This supersedes the previous record popularity he enjoyed of 88%, which he first reached in 2008 and then equalled last November.

Both peaks came after violent outbreaks for Russian forces, with the first peak coming after the Russo-Georgian war in the summer of 2008, while the second came after the annexation of Crimea by Russian troops and the subsequent outbreak of war in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.

The Russian government's popularity is lower and it has been consistently found to be less popular than Putin himself - 62% of Russians currently approve of it. It reached an all time high approval rating of 66% last September, equalling its previous record popularity point in 2008.

Similarly to Putin, the government experienced its biggest peaks in popularity in the wake of the Georgian and Ukrainian conflicts, however unlike the president, the government has experienced much steeper drops in between the two peaks. Between 2011 and 2013 the Russian government largely polled poorly, with approval ratings falling below 50% for the majority of the time.

According to the same poll Putin is by far the most popular politician in Russia, however prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, who replaced him as president between 2008 and 2012, also polls highly, as 66% of Russians approve of the prime minister.

A previous poll for the Levada Center found an overall "paradoxical phenomenon" in Russian society which showed that the majority of Russians believe their country's future is bright, despite admitting that they have grown worse off personally. 50% of Russians indicated that the economic crisis had impacted theirs and their family's everyday life in a negative way, but 64% believed that the country was going in the right direction.