In the Thick of It

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Latest Poll Shows Sharp Rise in Russian Government Approval Amid Ukraine War, With Caveats

March 31, 2022
RM Staff

As Russia’s new laws on freedom of expression become increasingly draconian, analysts have questioned how reliable any polling on Russians’ attitudes can possibly be. Denis Volkov, director of Russia’s go-to independent pollster, the Levada Center, told The New Yorker recently that “surveys don’t show what people think, but what they are ready to say … in public,” and that matters even more, according to Volkov's predecessor, Lev Gudkov. Russians are also “looking to confirm an us-versus-them worldview that was locked in place a long time ago,” Volkov told the magazine: “Russia is on the side of good and the West is against it.”

These caveats are helpful to keep in mind as we review the results of Levada’s latest government approval ratings, which have risen sharply in the month since Moscow launched its brutal war in Ukraine.

Key takeaways from the poll, conducted March 24-30 among a representative nationwide sample of 1,632 people:

  • The share of those who believe the country is generally moving in the right direction skyrocketed month on month, from 52% in February to 69% in the latest poll; the share of those who believe it’s moving in the wrong direction fell from 38% to 22%.
  • Vladimir Putin’s approval rating soared from an already high 71% last month to 83% in March.
  • The share of those who trust Putin rose from 34% to 44%.
  • Approval ratings of the prime minister, government (i.e., Cabinet and federal agencies) and State Duma also rose by more than 10 percentage points each, reaching, respectively, 71%, 70% and 59%; for the Duma, this was the first time since October 2015 that those who approve of its actions outnumbered those who disapprove.

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