Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has rising approval ratings with strong support at home, according to a new poll released on Thursday. His approval ratings have reached levels unseen in years, according to the independent poll. Many Russians have rallied around the Russian flag in the face of mounting international pressure even as the invasion of Ukraine has not gone to the leader’s plan after more than a month of war.
According to The Levada Center, an independent, nongovernmental Russian polling organization in Moscow, 83% of Russians approved of Putin’s actions, versus 71% in February and 69% in January. Approval of the Russian government as a whole increased 15% from February to March.
A strong majority of respondents, 69%, also believe that Russia is moving in the right direction, after just over 50% believed so in February. About a fifth of those surveyed say that the country is on the wrong path. The poll from the center, widely considered among the only credible pollsters operating in Russia and which years ago was included in the country’s register of noncommercial organizations acting as foreign agents, reached 1,632 Russian adults over a week long span in late March. The margin of error reportedly was not in excess of 3.4%.
While some observers believe polls in Russia do not reflect public opinion accurately, with many people giving answers they believe are socially acceptable, most agree that they are useful in gauging the dynamics of people’s moods.
Many Russians live in a world, as presented by state-run media, where there is no war with Ukraine. Instead, their country is carrying out “a special military operation” to uproot far-right extremists in a brotherly country that went off track and has been pushed by Western countries to turn against Moscow.
It has been reported that the Kremlin has moved to silence most independent media in Russia, forcing some to flee or suspend operations, and others to self-censor. Russia has blocked access to social media platforms, including Facebook, and major foreign news outlets, and enacted a law to punish anyone spreading false information about its Ukraine invasion with up to 15 years in prison. Thousands have been arrested in recent weeks at antiwar protests, according to human rights activists.
Denis Volkov, Levada’s director said, “Initial feelings of shock and confusion that many Russians felt at the start of the February invasion of Ukraine was being replaced with the belief that Russia is besieged and that its people must rally around their leader.”
Continuing, Mr. Volkov said, “The confrontation with the west has consolidated people and some respondents have said that while they generally did not support Mr. Putin, now was the time to do so.”
In conclusion, Mr. Volkov said, “People believe that everyone is against us and that Putin defends us, otherwise we would be eaten alive.”