Russians call for Medvedev’s resignation 

Russians call for Medvedev’s resignation
Dmitry Medvedev

Almost half of Russians — 45% of respondents — support the resignation of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to varying degrees. Such conclusions emerge from the April survey by Levada-Сenter.

18% of respondents ‘totally approve’ the resignation of Dmitry Medvedev, whereas 27% of those asked ‘rather approve’ it, according to the survey conducted by Levada-Center in the period from April 7–10 (see diagram).

Since May last year, the trust in the Prime Minister has gradually fallen. According to the survey, 14% had ‘total faith’ in the prime minister in May 2016, 9% in December, and only 3% in April this year. The number of respondents who ‘generally trusted’ the official for the same period decreased from 39 to 30%. While the number of the surveyed who ‘generally distrusted’ the Head of Cabinet increased from 30% in May last year to 33% in April this year. The number of respondents, who ‘totally distrusted’ Medvedev increased from 14 to 19%, respectively.

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Over the recent years, respondents have increasingly expressed their negative attitude towards the PM. Respondents expressing ‘sympathy’ for Medvedev have decreased in number (from 12% in 2013 to 8% in April 2017). The number of surveyed who have ‘nothing bad to say’ about the prime minister has decreased from 29 to 21% over four years. As for those who have ‘antipathy’ for the chief of state, their number has increased from 5 to 9%, and that of surveyed who feel ‘disgust’ for him has risen from 2 to 4%.

As reported to RBC by Levada-Center Sociologist Stepan Goncharov, Medvedev's rating has plummeted due to the investigation of Alexey Navalny, the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), the accumulation of economic problems, and the reduction of the ‘post-Crimean consensus’ effect. According to him, respondents credit Medvedev with the ‘deplorable’ results of the domestic policy.

March 26, protest actions were held in dozens of Russian cities at the instigation of oppositionist Alexey Navalny. The activities took place under anti-corruption slogans, most of which were devoted to FBK's investigation of Medvedev's property. The documentary ‘He is not your Dimon’ describes how the Russian Prime Minister owns “huge plots of land in the most elite areas, owns yachts, apartments in old mansions, agro-complexes and wineries in Russia and abroad.”

As a result of the unauthorized action on March 26, more than a thousand people were detained in Moscow alone. On the day of the FBK movie release, Spokeswoman of the head of government Natalya Timakova said that the investigation is of “clearly pronounced pre-election nature” and it is pointless to talk about the “attacks of the oppositional and convicted character.” A month after the release of the documentary, Medvedev called Navalny’s investigation into his property a ‘hodgepodge’.

An RBC source at the Government Office refused to comment on the Levada-Center’s sociology due to the “lack of momentum on the issue of the Prime Minister's resignation.” The source noted that the government traditionally has a lower rating than the president, because all unpopular economic decisions are taken by the White House.

Levada-Center assesses the attitude towards Medvedev’s person, and not to the prime minister’s work, so the study has elements of a ‘formative survey’, Political Analyst Konstantin Kalachev told RBC. According to him, the researchers are somewhat biased; they exert pressure of the respondents’ emotions, because the questions are arranged so as to obtain the worst result. “But they are alarming figures for sure. Resignation is the key issue. It seems that the attacks on Medvedev have served their purpose,” Kalachev concludes.

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If sociologists asked respondents to assess the work of the Government and its Head, the result could be slightly better, the political scientist believes. Respondents hardly distinguish Medvedev as Prime Minister and as a personality, because "no one knows him as a simple person", Goncharov retorts.

Attitude to the Prime Minister can be described as neutral-indifferent, it does not cause the respondents great emotions, political analyst Abbas Gallami comments to RBC. He relates this attitude to the Premier with the specifics of his position. "His work is quite routine and does not involve raging passions and vivid pictures. Especially in a situation where there is less money in the economy, which means that people have to refuse more often. The fact that confidence in Medvedev has been declining for quite some time suggests that this is a systemic problem, not the result of a single attack by Navalny," Gallyamov argues.

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In his opinion, the film and protests against the Prime Minister have become only catalysts for the growth of the negative towards him. "The fact that the supporters of the Premier's resignation are already much more noticeable than its opponents, while the people who have frankly negative emotions are very few, speaks of the new quality of the public request. Now people just want reforms, they are waiting for something fresh and unexplored," the political scientist believes.

Levada-Center study was conducted at home through a personal interview on a representative all-Russian sample of urban and rural population among 1600 people aged 18 and over in 137 settlements in 48 regions of the country.

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