Russians feel confident about Putin's foreign policy agenda, but less so about the economy

Russians continue to give high marks to President Vladimir Putin for his foreign policy agenda, but their assessments of the Russian economy are lukewarm.

From mid-February to early April, Pew Research surveyed 1,002 respondents across Russia and found that most still thought the president was handling key foreign policies well.

A majority (59%) of Russians believed their country plays a more important role in the world today compared to a decade ago.

Roughly 3/4 of those surveyed approved of Putin’s handling of relations with the US and China, while about 2/3 had favourable views of his dealings with the EU and Ukraine, as can be seen in the chart. However, those figures have slipped in the last two years, according to Pew.

Regarding Ukraine, 63% of those surveyed approve of Putin’s handling of relations with the country today, down from 83% two years ago. As for the EU, 67% approve of relations, down from 82% two years ago.

On the domestic front, Russians’ assessments of the economy were “tepid but relatively upbeat compared to recent years.”

In 2015, at a time when Russia’s GDP was contracting following the collapse of oil prices and the implementation of Western sanctions, 73% of respondents saw the economic situation as bad. Today, as the economy appears to be entering a period of stagnation, 46% saw the situation as good and 49% saw it as bad. Looking forward, however, Russians don’t see a looming upswing: More than half expected the economy to remain the same or get worse in the coming year.

Russians’ assessments of the president’s handling of the economy remain in positive territory (55%), although that figure has also slipped — down from 70% two years ago.

The only area surveyed for which Putin didn’t get majority approval was his handling of corruption. Just 49% of those surveyed approved.

Interestingly, Pew found that older Russians viewed the issue of corruption as more problematic than younger Russians, and were also less satisfied with the handling of the issue.

46% of those aged 50 and up approved of how Putin handles corruption, while 57% of those aged 18-29 did, according to Pew. And that’s notable, given that many of the protestors who turned up during the recent waves of protests against corruption were young.

Check out the full report at Pew Research Center.

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