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Putin-Polling Is a Dangerous Business

Russia’s independent pollster, Levada, is now a ‘foreign agent,’ shining a light on the risky world of opinion research in the Kremlin’s shadow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Photographer: Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP Photo

Russia's designation of its most respected polling agency as a foreign agent last week, hobbling the Yury Levada Centre, shows the extraordinary challenges pollsters face in the country.

As Russia runs out of money stashed away during a decade-long oil boom, opinion polls are reflecting a growing discontent with the government. Its move on the Levada Centre comes a week after Levada released a poll showing an 8 percent decline in the popularity of the country’s ruling party, United Russia, and less than two weeks before parliamentary elections set for Sept. 18.