Russian approval of Vladimir Putin at highest level in years

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MARCH 07: Vladimir Putin the President of Russia performs a 'toast' prior to the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games at Fisht Olympic Stadium on March 7, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images) Ian Walton, Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin's machinations in Ukraine haven't won him many friends in the U.S. or Western Europe, but the Russian people seem to be offering an enthusiastic thumbs-up: 83 percent of Russians approve Putin's job performance, according to a poll released Friday by Gallup.

Last year, Putin's job approval stood at a comparatively meager 54 percent, sapped by a weak economy and elections in 2011 and 2012 marked by allegations of fraud. Since then, though, Putin has overseen a Winter Olympics production in Sochi that was suffused with nationalism, and Russia has effectively seized the Crimean Peninsula from neighboring Ukraine.

The last time Putin's job approval stood at 83 percent was in 2008, after he finished his first stint in the presidency.

For the first time since 2008, a majority of Russians (73 percent) say their leaders are taking the country in the right direction. Record numbers of Russians also say they have confidence in the country's military (78 percent) and its government (64 percent).

Thirty-nine percent of Russians even have confidence in the honesty of the country's elections, according to Gallup - and that number, though it may seem low, is actually a record high.

As Russians grow fonder of their leaders, though, their opinion of the world around them seems to shrink. Approval of the U.S. plummeted to only 4 percent this year, down from 16 percent in 2013. And approval of the European Union dropped to 6 percent from 21 percent last year. Both the U.S. and the E.U. imposed sanctions on Russia in the wake of the annexation of Crimea.

Still, Gallup notes, "Even with increasing diplomatic isolation and a possible weakening economy with tougher sanctions, the vast majority of Russians will likely give their government full support in whatever course of action it chooses."

Gallup's poll surveyed 2,000 Russian adults between April 22 and June 9, and it carries a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percent.

  • Jake Miller

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