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Poll: Only 16% of Russians back Putin’s foreign policy

Russian President Vladimir Putin [Halil Sağırkaya/Anadolu Agency]
Russian President Vladimir Putin [Halil Sağırkaya/Anadolu Agency]

Only 16 per cent of Russians support President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, a Russia-based independent sociological research organisation Levada Centre has found.

An opinion poll conducted in March 2016 reported 22 per cent support for Putin’s foreign policy, which has dropped significantly to 16 per cent in July 2018 amid changing policies impacting the economy. Adding to this, only 17 per cent “believe” that Putin defends Russia’s national interests, according to RBC.

Some 1,600 adults were interviewed for the poll across 136 locations in 52 regions in Russia between 19-25 July. Participants were given the option to pick one answer as multiple choice or several at a time per question.

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Russians ‘irritated’ by foreign policy

According to Levada Centre researcher Danis Volkov, respondents were saying: “It’s enough to help everyone, we need to help ourselves, let’s not spend money on other countries, we’d better spend it in the country.”

Russians are becoming increasingly angered by the reduction of income and the rise in the retirement age, Volkov explained.

Russian’s believe foreign policy “hinders the implementation of social tasks” and “pension reform”, Andrei Kolesnikov, senior fellow and chair of the Russian domestic politics and political institutions programme at the Carnegie Moscow Centre, said. “People have decided that it is less necessary to engage in military operations, and spend more money on internal issues.”

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Russia intervened in Syria’s civil war in September 2015, alongside Iran, to support the Syrian government led by President Bashar Al-Assad. In June this year, Putin said Russia’s military is not planning a withdrawal.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when Assad’s regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests. Since then, more than 250,000 people have been killed and in excess of ten million displaced, according to the United Nations.

Despite the lack of support for Russia’s meddling in foreign countries, Putin can rest at ease as 49 per cent of Russians believe in his experience as a politician, compared with 33 per cent in 2016. Putin was singled out for his vigour and determination by 30 per cent and called a visionary politician.

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