Low oil prices, crippling sanctions, and a volatile currency. A multi-year recession. Wages now lower than in China. International bond market pariah.
The Russian economy isn’t in great shape. It’s no wonder, then, that president Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has taken a hit, recently slipping to a two-year low (link in Russian).
It has fallen all the way down to 80%.
Of course, most world leaders yearn to be as popular as Putin on a bad day. Germany’s Angela Merkel, the most popular leader of a big Western country, can only manage a 55% approval rating. Putin’s ratings, meanwhile, have hovered in the 80s since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, which gave him a popularity bump after a low of around 60% before the unrest in Ukraine broke out in 2013. Russian aggression in Ukraine triggered a round of international sanctions that hobbled the Russian economy just as oil prices began a long slide.
The image-conscious Russian president’s skillful management of his messages has shielded him from the country’s broader woes. Indeed, just under half of Russians think the country is headed in the right direction, far fewer than think their president—who has consolidated control in his 16 years in power—is doing a good job.