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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Boosts Popularity of United Russia to 68%

Support for United Russia has increased sharply since President Vladimir Putin decided to head its list of candidates for State Duma elections in December.

But the popularity of A Just Russia, a second pro-Kremlin party, has plummeted, casting doubt on its chances of getting into the next Duma, according to a monthly survey released by the independent Levada Center on Wednesday.

United Russia is now backed by 68 percent of voters, up from 55 percent in September, after Putin agreed to head its party list at the beginning of the month. A Just Russia, however, has seen its popularity dive from 7 percent to 4 percent, while support for the Liberal Democratic Party slumped to 6 percent from 11 percent. A party needs 7 percent of the vote to win Duma seats.

Only the Communists, whose support was down 1 percentage point at 17 percent, would be certain to be represented in the new Duma along with United Russia, if Levada's results were repeated in the elections.

Among the possible candidates for next March's presidential election, Levada found in a separate poll that support for First Deputy Prime Ministers Dmitry Medvedev and Sergei Ivanov had fallen for a second successive month. Support for Ivanov fell to 25 percent from 34 percent, while backing for Medvedev slid from 30 percent to 26 percent.

Thirteen percent of voters were prepared to back new Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov for president -- even though few had heard of him when appointed and he had been in the job only a month when the survey was conducted. LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky won his highest level of support this year, 19 percent, up from 11 percent. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov scored 12 percent, down three percentage points.

Levada interviewed 1,600 Russians for both polls, which had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.