MOSCOW, RUSSIA — A record 71 percent of Russians would vote for incumbent President Vladimir Putin if elections were held this week, despite the escalating crisis in eastern Ukraine and the effect of Western sanctions on Russia's economy, according to a poll released on Friday.
The poll, conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM), showed about 71 percent – a record high – would vote for Putin if a presidential election would take place this week. The number increased by about three percent when compared to the poll in July and indicates Putin continues to enjoy broad support at home despite intense pressure from Western governments.
Only 6 percent of respondents said they would vote for Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and 4 percent said they would support Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov. About 9 percent said they do not vote while 7 percent is currently unsure who to support.
But while Putin's electoral rating increased over the past few weeks, his overall approval rating dropped notably. When asked to describe the president's performance as good or bad, approximately 82 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Putin's work, down from a record 87 percent. Only 9 percent described Putin's work as poor and another 9 percent said they were unsure.
Asked whether they trust Putin, 35 percent of respondents said they "definitely trust" their president, and 47 percent said they "somewhat trust" him, followed by 8 percent who said they "tend to trust" Putin. Only a small number of Russians – about three percent – "definitely do not trust" Putin. Seven percent is unsure.
Russian relations with the European Union and other Western governments have significantly deteriorated since Crimea, which is internationally recognized as an autonomous republic in Ukraine, was occupied by Russian forces and then annexed by the Russian Federation after residents voted to join Russia in a disputed referendum.
Russia has received intense criticism from much of the international community for its role in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, which is now focused in Ukraine's east, where separatists have declared independence in an effort to also join Russia. At least 2,593 people have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine.