Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating rose to a record high of 89 percent in June, a new opinion poll shows.
Putin’s support increased by three percentage points from 86 percent in May, overtaking the previous record of 88 percent last reached in October, according to the survey published on the website of the Moscow-based Levada Center. The independent polling organization questioned 1,600 people in 46 Russian regions June 19-22, with a margin of error of not more than 3.4 percentage points.
Putin, 62, saw his popularity leap after he annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March last year. He’s retained public support with appeals to patriotism in Russia’s standoff with the U.S. and its allies over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, even as he grapples with his country’s first recession in six years. The downturn is likely to last until the end of 2016 if oil stays at $60, according to the central bank. Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, a close ally of Putin, suggested last week that presidential elections should be held ahead of the scheduled March 2018 vote to give a mandate for needed reforms.
The idea of early elections, which would extend Putin’s decade-and-half rule by another six years, is being discussed, according to some political analysts, who argue that it would allow Putin to capitalize on his high ratings before the recession starts to damage his reputation.