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Zubkovs Rating Rise After a Week

Published: September 21, 2007 (Issue # 1308)


The news that Viktor Zubkov had been promoted to the job of prime minister caught kremlinologists by surprise. But according to a recent poll, the former head of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service who was hitherto an obscure figure to most ordinary Russians, is already enjoying a staggering approval rating. Forty percent of St. Petersburgers polled by the Agency for Social Information on Sept.14-16 said they trusted Zubkov. By comparison, Sergei Mironov, head of the Council of Federation, is trusted by 36.9 percent of respondents, and State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov enjoys a 41.1 percent trust rating.

The same poll shows that 53 percent of those questioned hold a positive opinion about the efficiency of former prime minister Mikhail Fradkovs government. At the same time, 50.3 percent of respondents reacted positively to Viktor Zubkovs appointment as the new prime minister. Only 12 percent of those polled were negative about Zubkovs promotion.

The high trust in Zubkov demonstrated by so many people was not built on any knowledge about his activities, said Roman Mogilevsky, head of the Agency for Social Information. Rather, it is a sign of how impressive is the trust in President Putin, the man behind the appointment. The high rating really refers to the mechanism of appointment itself.

Maria Matskevich, a senior researcher with the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said embarrassment among political analysts and pundits over Zubkovs appointment was enormous.

Not a single kremlinologist had ever mentioned his name in any forecasts. Putins move shows that decision-making process in Russia is not the slightest bit transparent, Matskevich said. The analysts do not have enough information about those who govern us to be able to predict their next possible steps. Those forecasts we do get are rapidly losing their credibility.

But what some analysts find frustrating, their counterpart Valentin Bianki, a researcher in political psychology at St. Petersburg State University, attempts to interpret as Putins political flexibility.

When Putin appointed Anatoly Serdyukov as Russian Defense Minister six months ago, the president apparently had not thought of putting [Serdyukovs father-in law] Viktor Zubkov forward as prime minister; it would not have been logical, Bianki said. Yes, the figure of Zubkov seems to destroy the popular theory of some sort of secret plot to transfer power and indicates that important decisions can be made spontaneously in Russia. But this can only be a positive symptom.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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