Less than half of Russians (48 percent) approve Vladimir Putin’s performance as president, down 12 percent since the last survey in May, whilst 25 percent said they were unhappy with his work (up from 21 percent in May).
The results show a major fall in Putin’s approval rating since his first two terms as president, when it was on average was 65 percent, with just 15 percent reacting negatively to him. His popularity peaked at the end of 2008 when it reached 80 percent, with just 10 percent against.
His popularity hit an all-time low of 55 percent in winter 2005, when the government introduced a program to monetize social benefits.
Twenty-five percent of respondents are unhappy with his performance, up from 21 percent in May.
Russians have less faith in Putin than in the winter of 2011-12. 57 percent of respondents trust the president, down from 63 percent in January. Thirty percent do not trust him.
Some observers believe the Pussy Riot case may rebound to the Kremlin’s disadvantage, while even pro-Putin groups are complaining about the system’s inflexibility.
“This can provide a new signal that will trigger a fresh wave of protests,” said Moscow-based analyst Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a member of the ruling United Russia party. “The opposition has united, organized itself and grown in numbers. They are fighting for power, for real changes. This is very dangerous.”
The case has split the pro-government camp. The organizer of a Kremlin-backed youth camp challenged Putin last month over the trial and a general lack of judicial independence as well as illegal detentions and propaganda on state television.
“The reason for many of the problems I’ve talked about is the impossibility to get a change of government” in Russia, Dmitry Ternovsky told Putin at the camp at Lake Seliger, northwest of Moscow, according to a transcript posted on the Kremlin’s website.
“The Putin system has made a PR catastrophe out of a situation that could have been easily contained with an administrative fine for a public order offense,” said John Lough, associate fellow of the Russian and Eurasia Program at the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs.
The Levada Center receives support from the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.