Russians’ trust in President Vladimir Putin has fallen to a 14-year low, the state-funded VTsIOM polling agency said Monday.
The latest poll results come as Russian authorities — and Putin in particular — have faced criticism for their response to the coronavirus pandemic, which many see as providing insufficient support to businesses and workers. Before the coronavirus hit Russia, Putin had been pursuing a series of constitutional amendments that would allow him to stay president until 2036.
Just 28.3% of Russians surveyed by VTsIOM in March named Putin when asked to name a politician whom they trust, the lowest percentage since the pollster began asking the question in January 2006.
Valery Fyodorov, the head of VTsIOM, told Forbes Russia that respondents are more likely to say they trust Putin if asked the question in multiple-choice format rather than the “open-ended” format that VTsIOM normally uses.
For example, when asked to give a yes-or-no answer to whether or not they trust Putin in April, 69.8% of respondents said yes, he said.
“The open-ended question is more about memory and information activity than about trust, unfortunately,” Fyodorov said. “In general, I would stop asking this question at all, but if I stop asking it, they will start suspecting me of some terrible things.”
In its May 2019 survey, VTsIOM said that trust in Putin had reached a 13-year low of 31.7%. Following criticism from the Kremlin, VTsIOM said it would change its polling methodology, and its revised results showed trust in Putin skyrocket to 72.3%.