MOSCOW, November 16. /TASS/. Most Russians (68%) back the idea by ice hockey star Alexander Ovechkin to set up the Putin Team public movement in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the results of a poll unveiled by the national pollster VTsIOM on Thursday.
"The proposal by Alexander Ovechkin to set up the Putin Team has not yet become widely known (as of the time of the poll, 17% of citizens had heard about it) but the idea itself has found support among the majority of Russians (with 68% of the respondents backing it)," the poll says.
This idea caused the greatest enthusiasm among the older age groups. Thus, there are 66% of the respondents in the age group of 35 to 44 years and another 72% in the age bracket of 60 and more years and 73% in the age bracket of 45-59 years who "sooner support" this idea. Only six percent of Russians do not back this idea and every fifth respondent (22%) perceived it indifferently, the pollster said.
"The Putin Team movement forms one of the vectors of Putin’s probable electoral campaign. It is evident that the emphasis is made on de-politicizing the support movement. The population is growing tired of politics, ‘the political struggle’ and the slogans of both right-wing and left-wing politicians. In this context, the non-political movement can further mobilize the supporters of the incumbent head of state," Head of the VTsIOM Practice, Political Analysis and Consulting Mikhail Mamonov said.
The national pollster VTsIOM conducted its poll on November 10-12, 2017 among 1,800 respondents aged 18 years and more. The respondents were polled by a telephone interview, with the margin of error not exceeding 2.5%
On November 2, Russian ice hockey star Alexander Ovechkin, who plays for the national team and the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League, wrote on Instagram that he was creating a new public movement calling it the Putin Team. "Personal wins are always good, but as far as ice hockey and any other activity go, being a team is crucial for achieving a victory. Only a team is capable of changing the tide of the game and doing the impossible. As for me, I am ready to become part of such a team," he wrote. Ovechkin pointed out that he "never made a secret of my attitude to our president, always openly supporting him." "I am sure that there are many of us who support Vladimir Putin. So let us come together and show everyone how strong and united Russia can be," the ice hockey star added.
According to Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin, on the whole, welcomes Ovechkin’s plan to support President Vladimir Putin by creating a public movement.
Russian rhythmic gymnastics team headed by President of the national Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation Irina Viner-Usmanova, ice hockey stars Ilya Kovalchuk (SKA St. Petersburg) and Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins), former coach of the national football team and member of the State Duma (lower house of parliament) Valery Gazzayev already joined the Putin Team movement.
Russian chess grandmaster Sergei Karjakin announced on November 13 that he had also joined the Putin Team public movement.
"I have always openly supported Vladimir Putin and now I can finally do that officially. The Putin Team. Count me in," Karjakin wrote on Twitter.