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MOSCOW, December 26. /TASS/. Sociologists say consolidation of Russians around the president’s policy has been burgeoning upon the results of the outgoing year. The level of approval of Vladimir Putin’s policy skyrocketed after reunification with Crimea and has topped 85% this month despite the currency crisis.
Experts say that if in the outgoing year the foreign policy has overshadowed the internal problems, in 2015 the situation will change although the Russians will continue to pin their faith on the president.
The Levada Center independent polling agency published December’s ratings of approval and confidence in the president. At least 85% of those polled expressed their trust in Putin, on a par with the figures issued in November before the crisis on the currency market. Since late March, his rating has never been below 80%.
Respondents of the All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Studies (WCIOM) nominated Putin for “the year’s politician” for the seventh consecutive time and the Public Opinion Foundation (POF) — for the fourth time.
Simultaneously, Russians’ level of confidence in the institutions related in this or that way to Putin’s policies has been on the rise. Thus, the Levada Center said that more Russians approved of activities of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, (up from 36% in January to 52% in December) and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (up from 48% to 63%) and the government (up from 43% to 60%) alongside the regional authorities (up from 54% to 60%).
In December 2011, this picture would have been unimaginable in the wake of many-thousand-strong opposition rallies.
Moreover, besides surveys, much more evidence of the public and political consolidation has emerged this year. For instance, all the four caucuses at Duma voted almost unanimously on the most landmark decisions. And festivities on Day of National Unity, on November 4, for the first time since the introduction of this holiday in Russia, were held as a large-scale rally under the motto "We Are United" and with the participation of all significant political forces instead of nationalists’ marches scaring the public.
“Maybe, for the first time in the post-Soviet times, we have a spontaneous feeling of a united nation, of united Russian people,” the Rossiiskaya Pravda governmental daily wrote on Friday.
And it happened against the background of the deteriorating economic situation inside the country when due to different reasons — primarily to the Western sanctions and falling oil prices — the ruble started losing its value dramatically.
At the same time, intra-Russian problems stepped backwards for the Russians in 2014.
Month after month, the Levada Center has been ranking Crimea’s reunification with Russia, Ukraine’s crisis, in particular the developments in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, among main events of the outgoing year. Meanwhile, Russians viewed the combat actions in Ukraine’s south-east and Western sanctions as an aggression against themselves.
LifeNews agency cites Director General of the Political Information Center Alexey Mukhin who said that sanctions and the overall external pressure on Russia had just boosted the support for the president.
“The pressure on Russia and on Putin personally is pushing his rating upwards constantly,” the expert said.
Levada Center head Lev Gudkov, who is quoted by Kommersant daily, believes that Crimea’s reunification with Russia and Ukraine’s crisis prompted the population to change their mind about the attitude towards the authorities. During and after Crimea’s reverting to the Russian jurisdiction, “the president's conduct fell in line with what the masses of people had expected of him.”
“We have been living by Ukraine and not by Russia for all the year but it is going to end soon as Crimea, Ukraine and Western sanctions are going to the background and the social troubles, first of all, reforms in healthcare and education that affect all the Russians, are moving into limelight, both for the poor and for the rich,” TASS was told by Vladimir Petukhov, head of the complex social studies department of Sociology Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Last spring, the support of state institutions was in gear with rising patriotic moods due to Crimea's reunification with Russia. But at present anxiety is accumulating in the wake of troubles in the social sphere and economy and “citizens again appeal to the state, to the president who they pin their hopes on,” the sociologist said in conclusion.
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