- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has declined for the third year in a row, new polling from the independent Levada Center showed Tuesday.

Just 29% of those surveyed said they have a positive outlook on Mr. Putin, according to the latest poll — down from 32% in October and 42% at this time in 2017.

The number of Russian respondents who would describe Mr. Putin as “a true leader who can lead the people” sank this year to just 13%, down from 17% two years prior.

The latest data comes just weeks after Russia’s constitutional court approved an amendment effectively reset the number of presidential terms served for former presidents, allowing Mr. Putin to reign until 2036. The measure was expected to see a nationwide vote in April, but coronavirus concerns have pushed the vote back to an undisclosed date.

Mr. Putin’s approval rating hit an all-time high in 2014 at 84%, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, the Moscow Times reported.

The latest drop in the Russian leader’s approval rating is believed to be linked to Mr. Putin’s alleged relationships to corporations associated with the plummeting oil prices and subsequent devaluation of the ruble.

Levada Center Director Lev Gudkov told Russian news outlet Vedomosti business daily that “this issue was widely discussed online, and the events themselves affected the most informed segments of the population and young people.”

“Sympathies for the president have fallen the most among young people, and for the first time, it has been through social media, where these events were widely discussed, that such a reaction to political and economic events happened,” Mr. Gudkov said.

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