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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Polls Show People Like Putin, Not His Policies

Likely as a result of national consolidation in the aftermath of the hostage crisis in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin's job approval rating jumped to an all-time high of 83 percent in November, one of the country's leading pollsters said.

The All-Russian Center for Public Opinion Research, or VTsIOM, said that a poll conducted among a representative sample of 1,600 Russians on Nov. 22-25 showed that Putin's rating grew this month by six percentage points from a steady 77 percent in September and October.

The percentage of those who disapprove of Putin's performance dropped from an average of 20 during the past five months to an all-time low of 15 percent.

The poll's margin of error is 3.8 percent.

At the same time, when asked about specific aspects of Putin's domestic policies, Russians were more critical of their president. Only 33 percent consider Putin's handling of the economy and citizens' welfare a success, while 62 percent consider it a failure to various degrees.

Only 18 percent said Putin had been successful in "routing the rebels in Chechnya," and 73 percent, up from 67 percent in March, said he had failed. A question about Putin's success in finding a political settlement in Chechnya brought similar results.

Putin's foreign policy won much more support. The percentage of people polled who considered his foreign policy a success grew to 71 percent from 57 percent in March.

VTsIOM director Yury Levada said the jump in Putin's approval rating is a result of the Oct. 23-26 hostage crisis.

"It is mainly connected to the Dubrovka emergency situation -- which still remains because nothing has been explained, because people are expecting other dangers," Levada said in a telephone interview Thursday.

"It is similar to what Americans call rallying around the flag, only in our country the president acts as a national symbol."

Leaders' approval ratings typically increase when a country feels itself in danger or under attack, as U.S. President George Bush's experienced after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Levada said he also senses a growing desire for revenge.

While at the beginning of the year about two-thirds of respondents said the Chechnya conflict should be phased out through negotiations, in November more people (48 percent) argued for a continuation of the war than for talks (43 percent).

"Putin clearly appears as a winner in the war against terror," pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov said. During the crisis, Putin performed the role of the nation's military leader well, but he has not yet shown himself to be a successful economic manager.

"He has not raised living standards, he has not created conditions for small and medium-size businesses," Markov said.

That is why Putin's "abnormally high" rating is likely to decrease when and if issues such as housing sector reform or the fight against corruption take priority in people's minds, Markov said.

"If he is successful, his rating is bound to decrease," he said. "That will mean that the country is becoming normal."