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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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBAs and Capital Legal Services event Arctic Expedition this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



Wednesday, Dec. 24


The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.



To have your event included in All About Town, email tot@sptimes.ru



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