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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedev's Popularity Soars to 35%

The popularity of Dmitry Medvedev, the anointed successor of President Vladimir Putin, soared in an opinion poll released Thursday.

Medvedev was endorsed by Putin as his preferred presidential candidate on Dec. 10, but he was already pulling away from other possible contenders, the independent Levada Center said of a survey carried out from Dec. 7 to 10.

Medvedev, a first deputy prime minister, had 35 percent support, while Sergei Ivanov, also a first deputy prime minister, had 21 percent and Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov had 17 percent.

About 20 percent of the 1,600 people questioned in 46 regions were approached after Putin's announcement Monday, the center said.

In November, Medvedev led by just 1 percentage point over Ivanov.

Forty percent of those polled had said they would vote for whomever Putin supported and, even before Putin's public endorsement, Medvedev was benefiting from favorable media coverage, said Denis Volkov, a researcher at the Levada Center. "There were many events concerned with Medvedev. For example, he met religious leaders, and this had been the privilege of the president until then," he said.

When asked how they would vote if neither Ivanov nor Zubkov were candidates, the support for Medvedev leaped to 63 percent. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov was in second position with 15 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Anti-Kremlin candidates received very little support in the poll, with the strongest, Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinksy, securing 3 percent.

Putin's approval rating, meanwhile, rose to 87 percent this month, up from 84 percent in November, according to the poll.

Just 12 percent of respondents said they disapproved of Putin's work, compared with 15 percent a month ago.