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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Listening to Russia: Who Really Rules?

The Levada public opinion firm has been running a survey (link in Russian, staff translation, corrections welcome)since december of last year asking Russians who has the "real" power in their country.

The options given: (a) Medvedev; (b) Putin; (c) They share it equally; (d) I have no idea.

In the July poll, only 9% of respondents answered that Medvedev had the real power, down from a high of 22% in April. 36% of respondents answered that Putin has the real power, up from a low of 21% in March. Medvedev's share of the vote has never exceeded Putin's at any time while the survey has been running. 47% of respondents said that the two are sharing power as co-presidents, matching the highest prior total, from March. 8% of respondents could not answer, half of the high of 16% from February.

So currently 83% of Russians believe that Vladimir Putin, Russia's "prime minister," is at least co-president.

A second question was asked as a follow-up: Is Medvedev merely carrying out Putin's policies, or is he developing his own?

The options given: (a) He's following Putin measure for measure; (b) He generally does what Putin would do; (c) He is partically charting a new course; (d) He is entirely his own man; (e) I have no idea.

In the July survey, 31% of Russians said Medvedev was copying Putin jot for jot, the highest share for that answer since December (when it was 40%). 51% said he was generally a mirror of Putin, 3% below the high for that answer which was recorded in April. Only 13% of respondents said that Medvedev was wholly or partially his own man.

Thus, 82% of Russians feel that Dimitry Medvedev, the "president" of Russia, is more or less the "prime minster's" cyborg.

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