Image by Андрей Романенко
Malaia Inzhenernaia Street in Luga, Leningrad Oblast
For a man routinely described as the chief antagonist of the West, Vladimir Putin’s domestic position is not looking too rosy. The rollout of recent pensions reforms has been ill-received by the Russian public, shaking a political establishment already weakened by poor economic performance and reeling under Western sanctions.
The reform effort has become the most significant political crisis to face the Kremlin in recent times. Ordinary Russians might have gone along with the government’s military ventures and held firm in the face of sanctions, but in proposing to increase the retirement age and weakening the social safety net, the government has touched a third rail not even its expert propaganda can put a positive spin on.
Recent polls released by the independent Levada Center clearly show the shift in public opinion. According to the latest figures , only 17 percent of Russians believe that Putin defends Russia’s national interests. Russia’s most popular officials have experienced similar downturns . Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s trust rating declined from 31 percent to 19, while Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s dropped from 25 percent to 14…
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