May 31, 2019 / 4:28 PM / 4 months ago

After Kremlin raises eyebrow, state poll shows Putin's trust rating surging

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an awarding ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia May 23, 2019. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s state pollster on Friday showed public trust in President Vladimir Putin surging to 72.3% under a new methodology for canvassing public opinion that was introduced after the Kremlin questioned its earlier findings.

Putin’s high popularity ratings have been slipping since the government raised the retirement age last year, an unpopular move that compounded grumbling over years of falling real incomes and belt-tightening.

The Kremlin raised its eyebrow on Thursday after the head of Moscow-based state pollster VTsIOM said public trust in Putin had fallen to 31.7% - its lowest in 13 years - because people were losing hope of an improvement in the economy.

Asked to comment on a conference call, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov questioned the meaning of the findings, saying that VTsIOM last week had also conversely found Putin’s approval rating to be on the rise.

“To be honest, we’re of course expecting an analysis from our dear specialists to understand how this data correlates - how, for instance, trust can fall while his electoral rating rises,” said Peskov.

“This is of course a difficult analysis, but we hope with time that it appears,” he said.

The next day VTsIOM said public trust in Putin had rocketed to 72.3% - over double its previous level - under a new “closed” methodology in which Russians were asked whether or not they trusted Putin by name.

The state pollster, however, also said that trust had slipped to a new 13-year low of 30.5% under its old methodology, under which Russians were simply asked to name which politicians they trust.

Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Stephen Powell

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