Forty-five percent of Russians believe their country is moving in the wrong direction, a new opinion poll by independent Levada Centre tells.
Levada has made similar opinion polls since 1999 and not since 2006 have so many said the country is on the wrong path. 42 percent believe “things are going in the right direction” while 13 percent thinks it’s difficult to answer the question, Levada’s annual overview shows (in Russian).
President Putin’s approval ratings are also dropping, from 80 percent in 2018 to 64 percent in late January this year. Dmitry Medvedev’s popularity is now down to 33 percent, which is an all-time low for him in the position of Prime Minister.
The share of Russians who blame the Russian government for things going wrong has increased by 10 percent since last year. 61 percent disapprove the work of the government, the poll indicates.
The poll also shows a growing number of people blame Putin and Medvedev for falling household incomes, increased retirement age and higher costs for food and living.
Funding weapons research
A challenge in times of domestic economic trouble for ordinary people, is how to find new funds for new weapons as tensions with the US and Europe are rising.
Medvedev on Sunday promised to provide more money for new weapons. The statement comes in response to the US withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty (INF treaty) and response steps announced by Putin on Saturday.
The Russian Government will procure funds and mechanisms for financing R&D and design of new types of weapons in view of the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty and response steps announced by the Russian President
— Dmitry Medvedev (@MedvedevRussiaE) 2 février 2019
In a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Vladimir Putin said Russia would do the same as the US: “They said that they are engaged in research, development and design work, and we will do the same,” Putin said according to the transcripts posted by Kremlin.
Putin said new missiles would be deployed. “I agree with the Defense Ministry’s proposal to create a land-based version of the Kalibr launchers and work on a new project to develop a land-based hypersonic intermediate-range missile.”
Putin, however, underlined that new weapon systems should be developed within existing budget allocations to the Defense Ministry.
Sergey Shoigu said his ministry would propose adjustments to the 2019 budget in order not to exceed existing budget limits.
Related stories from around the North:
Norway: NATO’s Arctic dilemma: Two visions of the Arctic collide as NATO and Russia flex muscles, Eye on the Arctic special report
Russia: Russia’s new Arctic naval base built in 6 months, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Faced with Trump’s wavering support for NATO, Nordic nations stick together, The Independent Barents Observer
United States: U.S. experts call for ‘vigilance’ on Russian military buildup in Arctic, Alaska Public Media