A new poll shows that more than one-quarter of Russians are ready to protest against the economic policies of President Vladimir Putin’s government — the highest number since Putin came to power in 2000.
The poll, released on August 1 by the independent pollster Levada Center, showed that 28 percent of respondents said they would attend mass rallies to push forward economic demands.
That number was higher only in September 1998, when one-third of Russia’s population said it was ready to take to the streets amid an ongoing economic crisis.
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The number of people who said they are ready to take part in political protests was 23 percent — the highest level since 2009, when Levada first included a question on political protests in its poll.
Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they are ready to protest against an unpopular bill to increase the retirement age from 55 to 63 for women and from 60 to 65 for men.
Seventy-one percent said they want the bill scrapped; only 5 percent said they support it.
Some 1,600 people took part in the poll, which was held between July 19-25 in 136 towns and cities across Russia’s 52 regions.
Despite his continued popularity among Russians, Putin faces major long-term economic and demographic problems. Some political observers have said Russia has entered a period of “stagnation.”
The government is grappling with how to raise the retirement age to prevent looming fiscal problems in the future.
Levada’s previous poll, released in June, put the number of Russians who think that "decisive, full-scale changes" were needed at 57 percent, up from 42 percent in August last year.
Source: Radio Free Europe