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Russians Feel That Great Power High – Again

Published: May 13, 2014 (Issue # 1809)




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President Vladimir Putin's ratings first peaked in the mid-2000s, hit a low during the mass protests of 2011 to 2012, and have now reached record highs.

But will the rising price of utilities and foodstuffs burst this bubble of enthusiasm over the annexation of Crimea and bring Putin's popularity ratings plummeting back down to 60 percent or so by fall? Or is Putin formulating a new "social contract" with the Russian people?

The "nation of consumers" that arose in the boom years of the 2000s has shifted its focus. It is now elated that the country has extended its influence and strength onto the global arena.

His first social contract in the early and mid-2000s was based on the principle that most Russians would accept the government's restrictions on personal freedoms and democracy as long as they received higher standards of living. Now, judging by the results of a recent Levada Center poll, most Russians have shifted their focus to another value: returning Russia to its great-power status. It seems that the ruling regime has found its political "second wind," and if this wind continues to blow for the next couple of years, Putin's re-election in the 2018 presidential race is all but a given.

According to a Levada Center poll from April 24 to 29 among 1,602 Russians, Putin's approval ratings soared to 83 percent following the annexation of Crimea. And as Putin's popularity rocketed, so did the ratings of a host of related government institutions as well. Sixty-two percent of respondents expressed approval for Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and 60 percent approved of the Cabinet.

According to the poll, if the presidential election was held today, Putin would easily win at least 70 percent of the vote, while United Russia — the ruling party that not long ago seemed to have exhausted its popularity — could count on 60 percent, four times more than its closest rival, the Communist Party. The new State Duma would include only one more party in addition to those two, the Liberal Democratic Party, and United Russia would once again secure a constitutional majority — this time without any need to falsify election results.

Why did the annexation of Crimea have such a powerful mobilizing effect and strengthen the position of the Kremlin so much at a time when economic growth has stopped, capital flight has reached record levels, the ruble is falling and prices are rising?

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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