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Putins Popularity Masks an Uncomfortable Reality

Published: September 3, 2014 (Issue # 1827)


It has become increasingly common tohear even from opposition politicians that it is inRussias best interests forPresident Vladimir Putin toremain inpower as long as possible. Otherwise, they say, things could get even worse.

I agree with that argument, but with one caveat: If Putin loses power, things could get even worse forthe West as well. That might sound like heresy tosome, but just hear me out onthis.

According toa recent Levada Center poll, Putins approval rating has dropped slightly since thebeginning ofthe month, probably due tothe recent food imports ban. Despite this, his current approval rating of85.5 percent is still impressive.

Observers typically ascribe theastronomically high approval rating torecent events inUkraine andthe Western sanctions that act onmost Russians theway ared flag acts ona bull.

That explains thesurge inPutins popularity, but it does not explain why his ratings have remained consistently high ever since he served as prime minister inthe late 1990s under former President Boris Yeltsin. It is rare forany politician inany country toenjoy such support forso long.

One ofthe reasons forthe initial rise inPutins popularity lies inthe traditional mentality ofthe Russian people, who tend tobelieve less intheir own strength andmore ina national hero or savior.

After alitany ofdisappointing Soviet leaders such as Leonid Brezhnev, who was senile; Yury Andropov, who was only half-living; Konstantin Chernenko, who was already half-dead; Mikhail Gorbachev, who spoke well but led poorly; andpower-hungry but drunken Boris Yeltsin theRussian people hoped tofinally win thelottery andland aleader inwhom they could place their full confidence.

Most Russians were sincerely convinced that Putin was theonly man capable ofimplementing national projects, getting fifth- andsixth-generation combat aircraft into theair, raising pensions toEuropean levels, resolving thedemographic problem, eliminating corruption, commencing thedrilling ofArctic oil andso on.

Inthe face ofsuch expectations, most leaders would not hold thepublics trust forlong. So what exactly is his secret? Contrary towhat some liberal opposition leaders claim, most Russians do not support Putin out ofsheer stupidity. Its just that theold set oftraditional priorities still remains.

During his tenure as leader, Putin has achieved agreat deal that Russian citizens value. He continues tokeep atight hold over thecountrys affairs anundeniable sign ofprogress inthe eyes ofmany, given thechaos ofthe 1990s.

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Friday, Nov. 28


Join table-top game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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