Domestic wellbeing key in making Russia great, say polls

Domestic wellbeing key in making Russia great, say polls
Russians still want to be a Great Power, but want Putin to care for the people first
By bne IntelliNews November 8, 2018

While Russians still want to see Russia as a "great power", it should be conditioned first and foremost by the ability of the state to maintain the well-being of its citizens, a study by the RAN Institute of Sociology cited by Kommersant daily on November 7 shows.

"State and military power" is no longer the priority mass narrative for Russians and since post-Crimea 2014 gave way to "Justice, state power, and democracy", according to the study. 

Notably, as the ruling United Russia party has experienced a number of setbacks in key regions at the latest September 2018 elections, "democracy" was added to the 2014 version, which only included "justice and state power". 

Previously two thirds (67%) of the respondents believed that Crimea annexation was "recovering justice in foreign policy", while currently only 49% of the respondents hold such views and 51% believe that "Russia should first care about its own citizens". The number of respondents viewing Russian economic counter-sanctions as positive declined to 47% from 60% in 2014.

The results of the study are in line with previous 2018 polls that indicated that Putin's foreign policy not to deflect attention from problems at home. The number of Russian who approve of the foreign policy of President Vladimir Putin declined from 22% in 2017 to 16% currently, Levada Center pollster said in August.

With growing popular discontent, the ecstasy of the FIFA World Cup held in Russia behind, it might not be enough to continue pumping up the "us versus them" and Russia's special on the global arena to deflect attention from domestic social issues.

The latest polls show Russians voicing the opinion of "lets stop blaming all [the other countries], let’s help ourselves, let's better spend this money at home," Levada Center sociologist Denis Volkov commented, as cited by RBC.

While Russians increasingly see Putin as a seasoned politician (49% versus 33% in 2016), only 17% are convinced that he is "motivated by state interests" (25% in 2016), while 17% of respondents believe Putin to be "affiliated with big capital".
Such results are not indicating the decline in Putin's popularity per se, Volkov commented, but the 2014-2016 post-Crimea patriotism wave among Russians is receding.