April 20 (UPI) — Russian President Vladimir Putin remains the country’s most trusted politician, but his rating in a state-run public opinion poll has fallen to below 50 percent.
The weekly poll by VTsIOM, or Russian Public Opinion Research Center, showed the percentage of respondents who trust Putin “with important governmental questions” fell to 48.4 percent — down from 55.3 percent in a March 17 poll. The rating was 58.9 percent in January.
Putin won re-election with 77 percent of the vote on March 18, but VTsIOM director Valery Federov said the decline in trust ratings was expected.
Federov said voters, in Russia and elsewhere, are typically more attentive to the political process during election campaigns — but afterwards lose interest.
Analysts noted the ratings decline coincided with a string of negative events, including a deadly March 25 shopping mall fire in Kemorovo, protests against landfills in Moscow and sanctions imposed by the United States and Western allies.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ranked second on the list with a 19 percent favorability rating. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was third with 18 percent and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev fourth with 10.7 percent.
Medvedev was rated third on a list of Russian politicians who citizens “distrust most,” preceded by State Duma Deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky and former presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak.
The poll was conducted in at least 80 Russian political regions among 1,000 respondents on April 8.