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Survey Data Shows Growing Popular Acceptance of Putin 'Regime'

(Washington, DC--November 22, 2006) Public opinion data collected by Scottish researchers appears to show that popular support for the "regime" of Russian President Vladimir Putin has been rising in Russia. Professor Richard Rose, Director of the Center for the Study of Public Policy at the University of Aberdeen, told an RFE/RL audience last week that data collected in Russia in 2005 for the center's "New Russia Barometer" surveys shows that support for the government of President Vladimir Putin has stabilized, and there is "resigned acceptance of the regime."

The survey's "regime support scale" shows a 40 percent level that has grown, Rose said, from 26 percent in 2000 and correlates with a general improvement in economic conditions in Russia. The economic impact is a "key factor" in the survey data affecting support for the regime, according to Rose. Rose noted that a closer reading of the survey data, including both positive and negative rankings, shows that peak support for Putin's government was reached in 2003-2004, when it reached 65 percent. Rose said "authoritarian governments want resigned acceptance," rather than the "mass mobilization" of the population that totalitarian regimes require, and that's what the center's survey data confirms--there is "equilibrium" at the present time in Russia.

Looking at other indices, which the survey has measured in Russia since 1992, Rose said the "impact of democracy," or rather the "appreciation of freedom," index among the Russian population has remained consistent over the 13 years of the survey. In 1992, 14 percent of the population identified freedom as a positive value; in 2005, the result rose to 16 percent. The "impact of corruption hasn't changed much, either," Rose said, commenting on respondents' views of the Russian government since 1992. The center's survey also demonstrates that the "impact of political inertia on regime support" should not be forgotten; according to Rose, "people adapt."

The data discussed by Rose can be found in his new book, "Russia Transformed," co-authored with William Mishler and Neil Munro and recently published by Cambridge University Press.

Archived audio of this briefing can be heard in RealAudio and Windows Media formats.