Zubkov’s 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 Fradkov’s government. At the same time, 50.3 percent of respondents reacted positively to Viktor Zubkov’s appointment as the new prime minister. Only 12 percent of those polled were negative about Zubkov’s 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 Zubkov’s appointment was enormous.
“Not a single kremlinologist had ever mentioned his name in any forecasts. Putin’s 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 Putin’s “political flexibility.”
“When Putin appointed Anatoly Serdyukov as Russian Defense Minister six months ago, the president apparently had not thought of putting [Serdyukov’s 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.”Pages: