More Russians are opposed to President Vladimir Putin’s re-election today than at any other point since the 2014 annexation of Crimea, an independent survey said Friday.
According to the Levada Center polling agency, 41% of Russian respondents said they would not like Putin, 68, to remain president beyond 2024, while 48% said they would.
It is the highest objection to Putin’s re-election since October 2013, when the share of those opposed to the prospect of his fourth term stood at 45% against 33% who were in favor.
Opposition to Putin staying past his constitutional term limit had plunged as patriotic fervor swept Russia when it seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, but has steadily climbed ever since.
The latest figures come months after Russians voted in favor of controversial constitutional reforms that allow Putin to run for two more terms, potentially extending his rule to 2036. Putin, 68, has said he has not yet decided whether he plans to take advantage of the newly available option.
Those opposed to Putin’s fifth term cited his 21 years at the helm and a need for change in leadership as well as social issues and the president’s age, Levada said. Conversely, supporters of prolonging Putin’s rule cited stability, personal sympathy, foreign policy, professional qualities and lack of alternatives.
“Many approve of Putin’s activities and talk about his big achievements, but still [say] they need something else,” Levada deputy director Denis Volkov told the Open Media news website.
Levada’s results revealed an age and gender gap, with more men than women and more younger than older Russians opposing Putin’s re-election.
Open Media also took note of a 48-to-42 split among men objecting to Putin’s re-election compared with those favoring it. Among women, only 35% would like a change in leadership compared with 53% in favor of Putin.
Levada surveyed 1,601 Russian respondents in person across 137 cities between Feb. 18-24.