Poll Says Putin Still Popular

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has retained sky-high approval ratings despite the economic crisis, a survey indicated Thursday.

Eighty-three percent of Russians polled by the independent Levada Center said they approved of Putin's leadership, the same level recorded in October.

President Dmitry Medvedev saw his rating fall 1 percentage point from October to 75 percent, the poll said.

The percentage of Russians who believe that the country is going in the right direction has fallen from 54 percent to 43 percent since October, the poll showed.

But Putin has avoided being tarnished by this disillusionment, said Lev Gudkov, director of the Levada Center.

"It's not for nothing we call him the Teflon president, because criticism doesn't stick," Gudkov said.

Medvedev's popularity consistently trails that of his mentor Putin, Gudkov said.

The full impact of the crisis had not yet been felt in Russia, said Gudkov, whose pollsters estimate that only 10 percent to 15 percent of people have seen their lives get significantly worse as a result of the economic crisis.

The Levada Center polled 1,600 people on Jan. 16 to 19 in a poll with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.