Medvedev unshaken by approval ratings slump

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that he was unconcerned by a sharp drop in the approval ratings of the ruling United Russia party with just weeks left until parliamentary polls.

“Sometime people say, ‘See that party’s ratings have dropped by five percent – that’s it, a catastrophe.’ But listen, this is life,” Medvedev said. “This is an absolutely normal situation.”

“On the whole, I think that the chances of United Russia to get a firm majority in the State Duma are quite high, even now,” he added.

A survey conducted by Levada Center between October 28 and November 1 shows just 51 percent of Russians support United Russia, a drop of nine percentage points in just a week.

The popularity of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Medvedev, who will lead the party in the December 4 polls, have dropped five percentage points each to 61 percent and 57 percent respectively since mid-October.

The results from state-run pollster VTsIOM paint an even gloomier picture, putting Putin’s approval rating at 42 percent and Medvedev’s at 31 percent, a decline of six and seven percentage points since mid-October, respectively.

While pointing to growing frustration with Russia’s political process, analysts are unable to pinpoint specific events behind the decline.

“This situation is absolutely normal. If the ratings drop, the party should work on this, think about what should be done to preserve its popularity,” Medvedev said. “But the campaign is underway and everyone has a chance to boost its ratings.”

He said he was not worried about the victory of opposition parties in the regions, as this simply illustrates that political competitiveness exists in Russia.