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Putin Preferred in Moscow With Protests Seen Shifting to Regions

July 11 (Bloomberg) -- The mood for protest has shifted from Moscow to the regions as Russia’s economy slows, according to the Center for Strategic Studies in Moscow.

Approval ratings for President Vladimir Putin, 60, have stabilized, and he’s now more popular in the capital than in the rest of Russia, according to the Center for Strategic Studies in Moscow. Fifty percent of Moscow respondents would vote for him as president if an election was held now compared with 45 percent outside the city, the survey showed.

Putin’s return for a third term in the Kremlin last year was marred by tens of thousands demonstrating in Moscow after disputed parliamentary elections in December 2011. Protests have continued this year as dozens of activists face prison terms after violent clashes with police at a rally in May 2012 and opposition leader Alexey Navalny is tried on fraud charges that he calls politically motivated.

“This is a schizophrenic situation,” Mikhail Dmitriev, the research institute’s head, told reporters yesterday. “Putin is back as the anchor of stability again but there are more and more people in regions who are ready to protest.”

Sixty-three percent of respondents living in regional cities with a population of more than a million, said they’re are ready to protest if they’re hit by an economic crisis. The Russian average was 43 percent, while in Moscow 15 percent said they’d be prepared to take to the streets, according to the institute, which advises the government.

Protest Mood

“Less educated and less wealthy people in the regions are much more in the mood to protest than in Moscow and St. Petersburg, which were the heart of anti-Putin protests in 2011-2012,” Dmitriev said.

In Moscow, 53 percent of people want to live in a democratic state, while more than 80 percent of urban residents in the rest of Russia seek democracy. The Russian average was 67 percent. In the capital, 29 percent are in favor of an authoritarian regime, compared with 9 percent in Russia.

“Our findings, which we cross-checked with other pollsters, show that society is very unstable, the level of concern is extremely high and people’s mood is changing like a fever.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at

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