Putin loses support in rough first year | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 07.05.2013
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Putin loses support in rough first year

For Vladimir Putin, the third time isn't always a charm. According to a DW-Trend survey, many Russians are disappointed in his return to the presidency - particularly when it comes to their own personal finances.

It's been a year since Russia's last presidential election, and President Vladimir Putin's approval ratings have fallen. Or at least, that's what the latest DW-Trend shows for Russia in April 2013. Conceived by DW's Russian department and undertaken by the Ukrainian branch of the IFAK research institute, 1,000 Russians between the ages of 18 and 65 took part in the survey, which was carried out in cities of 50,000 or more throughout Russia.

Of those queried, 54 percent declared that they had voted for Vladimir Putin back in March 2012; another 27 percent claimed to have voted against him. One year later, just half of Russians (51 percent) believe that Putin's election to office has been good for the country. One-third of Russians are now unsatisfied with Putin's return.

One year ago, things looked different. In April 2012, nearly three-fourths of Russians (73 percent) expected Putin's return to the Kremlin to be good for their country. At that time, just 15 percent felt the opposite.

That optimism had followed on the heels of a perceived "weak" presidency by Dmitri Medvedev. Now, disappointment in Putin's return has set in.

One year into Vladimir Putin's term of office, a significant segment of the population believes that their own personal financial situation has worsened. Twenty-three percent of Russians now believe that the last 12 months have seen their financial position deteriorate, with 19 percent seeing an improvement over that same period. The majority, 56 percent, see no change at all.

Above all else, it's the elderly in Russia who feel they've taken the brunt of the financial blow. While just 12 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds feel their personal financial situation has worsened over the last year, some 31 percent of 50-to-60-year-olds feel their own financial positions have weakened.

Positively, Russians appear to feel optimistic on the subject of foreign policy. Just five percent see a deterioration in German-Russian relations over the last year, while 37 percent feel that things haven't changed over that same time; another 23 percent speak of improvement.

So, too, with Russia's relationship to the EU, NATO and neighboring countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus. Only a minority see a decline in relations between Russia and those countries and institutions. As for the relationship between Putin and the US, that, too, has suffered little, Russians believe. Just 15 percent see a worsening of relations, while 11 percent see US-Russian relations as having improved.

On balance, Russian public perceptions of foreign policy developments over the last year are not necessarily meaningful. On average, one-third of Russians queried on the subject had no opinion. It's a sign that, for many citizens, Russia's relations to other countries and institutions aren't perceived as a large factor in day-to-day public life.

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