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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Rises on Credit

Other political ratings are mostly stable, but the one clear sociological dynamic is the rise of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Nearly all sociologists agree it is mostly based on his decisive move to military action in response to the terrorist attacks in Moscow and across Russia.

According to polls by VTsIOM and ARPI, of those asked who they would vote for if Russian presidential elections took place this Sunday, 31 percent name Putin.

Putin would also win every imaginable second-round runoff election if it were to be held this Sunday, according to VTsIOM's Nov. 12 poll data.

Against Gennady Zyuganov Putin wins 62:32, against Grigory Yavlinsky he wins 74:18, against Vladimir Zhirinovsky he wins 88:7, against Alexander Lebed he wins 84:19, against Sergei Stepashin he wins 79:11, against Yury Luzhkov he wins 79:14 and even against Yevgeny Primakov, Putin wins 58:36.

"What is very significant is that this is the first time in Russia where a leader has appeared who compensates the inferiority complex that has developed in many Russians of late, especially after [the ruble devaluation of] Aug. 17, 1998," said Alexander Oslon, head of the Fund for Public Opinion, in a telephone interview.

"We fail to do things. We want to do well, but it turns out like always, and this is very difficult to live with. But there must be someone who can deliver us from such misfortune - we, as separate human beings, cannot cope with it - and people see [in Putin] the potential of a strong leader who is leading them out. Somewhere. So far it is not clear where, but it is clear that we are not stuck any more."

Oslon added that in many ways this high rating for Putin is "an advance," one based on expectations - and if Putin fails to meet those expectations, his popularity will suffer.

Oslon's polls show Putin's backers see him as having a strong will, self-possession, professionalism, honesty, modesty and a straightforward character.

Some of those polls also cite him as an independent actor. ROMIR research, however, shows only about a third of respondents believe Putin is an independent political figure; another 37 percent believe he is following Yeltsin's orders and 16 percent think he is implementing the agenda of some other political group.

There are also qualities in Putin that Russians do not like.

Sixteen percent of Russians polled by VTsIOM said they don't like the fact that he is "linked to Yeltsin and his circle," and eight percent think Putin does not have clear political qualities. Another six percent think he is too harsh a politician, five percent think his activities in Chechnya are designed purely to further his political career and five percent feel he is not a particularly good-looking man.

- Yevgenia Borisova