Russians don’t trust Putin as much as they did last year. And they don’t trust other politicians, either.

04 Jun 2019

(Monkey Cage blog) This week, Russian news reported that trust in President Vladimir Putin fell to its lowest level in 13 years. Or did it? A monthly poll collected by the Kremlin-friendly polling organization WCIOM has long asked Russians, “Among politicians, who would you trust and who would you not trust to make important government decisions?” In May, just 31 percent listed Putin as a politician they would trust—the lowest figure since 2006.

Dismayed with the results, the Kremlin asked pollsters to investigate the causes. In response, WCIOM commissioned a new survey and asked the direct question: “Do you trust or not trust Vladimir Putin?” Seventy-two percent of respondents answered yes.

How should we understand these two results? Obviously, we should be concerned about a pliable public opinion firm bending to the Kremlin’s will, with political motives in changing the question’s wording and with public confusion about the results. The Kremlin is keenly interested in public opinion toward Putin. And given the variation in responses to these questions, we must wonder about the usefulness of public opinion polling in Russia. [...]

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