- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2015

Russia President Vladimir Putin seems very popular, according to poll numbers, despite a tanked economy and a growing isolation over Ukraine — but that’s because the numbers are fudged, a political analyst said.

Mr. Putin’s latest Levada-Center poll numbers indicate he’s favored by 86 percent of Russians, up from 85 percent last month. His numbers have been great since mid-May 2014 — the same time the Ukraine military operation kicked in, CNN reported.

So what’s going on?

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A whole lot of lying, said Ben Judah, author of “Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin,” CNN reported.

“That figure is made up,” he said. “An opinion poll can only be conducted in a democracy with a free press. In a country with no free press, where people are arrested for expressing their opinions, where the truth is hidden from them, where the media even online is all controlled by the government — when a pollster phones people up and asks, ‘Hello, do you approve of Vladimir Putin,’ the answer is overwhelmingly yes.”

Mr. Judah concluded, CNN reported: “So what that opinion poll is, is not a poll of approval but it’s a poll of fear.”

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