Fewer Russians Say Sanctions Harming as Economy Ebbs, Poll Shows

Fewer Russians say U.S. and European Union sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine are making life harder, even though most agree the country’s economy is weakening, according to a poll released today.

Half of Russian households saw “practically no problems,” while 31 percent said problems aren’t “too serious,” according to the Nov. 14-17 survey by the Moscow-based Levada Center. That compared with 35 percent and 44 percent in September. A total 80% “agreed” or “rather agreed” that “prices are sharply rising, living standards are clearly worsening and the country’s economy is weakening.”

Russia’s economy is suffering from the biggest capital outflow since 2008 and the fastest inflation in more than three years over the conflict in Ukraine President Vladimir Putin has denied U.S. and EU accusations that he’s instigating the crisis, and his approval rating is close to a record high. That may explain the increase among those who say the sanctions aren’t a burden, Levada deputy director Alexei Grazhdankin said.

“People think it’s not patriotic for them to feel or recognize that they are suffering from sanctions,” Grazhdankin said by phone. “They can see that the economic situation is worsening, but this is not a reason to criticize authorities or admit that they are personally suffering.”

Such attitudes can last for years, not months, unless differences in Russians’ living standards keep widening, Grazhdankin said.

Levada queried 1,600 people in 46 regions for the survey, which had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

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