MOSCOW, January 24 (Itar-Tass) — The Nezavisimaya Gazeta carries a large article on the chances of Presidential Candidate No. 1 – Vladimir Putin – to win the presidential elections on March 4.
Putin’s rating is growing by leaps and bounds, the newspaper writes. Late last week the All-Russia Centre for the Study of Public Opinion (VTSIOM) reported that confidence in Putin on the part of potential electors grew by another 4 per cent – from 48 to 52 per cent. It is not so important today whether Putin’s rating will grow or will go down. Anyway, even his opponents do not question the fact that Putin is the favorite of the presidential race.
And still, despite the fact that the gap between Putin and other candidates, who qualified for the electoral race, is rather large, a final price of the victory will also be important for him and his team. They would like Putin to win in the first round, of which Vyacheslav Volodin, first deputy head of the presidential administration, spoke early this week. The question is: what should Putin do for the gap between him and other candidates to look convincing, including in the opinion of his opponents? Will Putin be able to respond adequately to the challenges, set before him not by so-called opposition leaders, whom Putin, according to Alexei Kudrin, does not trust, but by civil society, whose members took to the streets on more than one occasion, hoping to start a dialogue with the authorities?
According to Yelena Shestopal, head of the chair of the sociology and psychology of politics, Political Science Department, Moscow University, during many years of holding top posts, Putin got accustomed to being out of reach for critics. He is not used to acting in conditions of competition. At the same time, Putin is a man with definite views and with a clear inner logic, as a result of which he makes concrete decisions irrespective of the regime. “Putin believes in his predestination, almost mystical, that it is he who is going to get the country out of the impasse. Of course, the present situation is very difficult and uncomfortable for him, but the fact that he is not losing heart shows that he is a real leader,” Ms. Shestopal said.
“Although Putin’s rating is high, one should not judge only by Moscow and Moscow intellectuals. It is for specialists to decide where his rating is 30 per cent or 50 per cent. It is clear that confidence in Putin could not grow immediately after the developments in the Sakharov Avenue,” Mikhail Delyagin, director of the Institute of Globalization Problems, told The Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Delyagin pointed to the changing of Putin’s rhetoric: he began to respond chaotically to popular protests, but it was a belated response.
“As far as the unfavorable atmosphere around the Prime Minister is concerned, first, it was created artificially, and, second, people got tired of the Putin brand. If he manages to change the situation radically, to suggest a ‘New Putin’ project and if it works, he will win in the first round. If not, he will win in the second round, because Putin is the strongest politician in Russia,” said Alexei Mukhin, director-general of the Political Information Center.
According to Mukhin, Putin knows that his rating went down dramatically. “He is doing his best to improve the situation. Only one third of the electoral campaign is over. He has a month and a half to go for enhancing the prestige of the leader. It will be very difficult to do, however, because of the scattering of efforts, angry urban residents and the position assumed by the West. Concerted efforts should be exerted for that purpose, until we see the results,” he said.