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#4 - JRL 7230
Apparent drop in Putin's ratings blamed on poll methods

Moscow, 18 June: Aleksandr Oslon, chief of the Public Opinion Foundation, believes that sociologists' conclusions showing a decrease in confidence in Russian President Putin are due to changes in polling methods.

Over the past three months, the level of confidence in Putin has decreased by approximately 12 points, from 47 per cent to 35 per cent.

"Previously, when an interviewer asked the respondent the question 'Whom do you trust?' the respondents were given a list of politicians and consequently the names were prompted. We have now liquidated the list and the people themselves say what they see fit," Oslon told Interfax on Wednesday [18 June].

Fluctuations are more noticeable in large figures than in small ones, which is why the change in the respondents' confidence in, for example, Communist leader Gennadiy Zyuganov (which has dropped from 20-21 per cent to 17-18 per cent) does not seem that big.

In addition, people sympathizing with politicians like Zyuganov and Zhirinovskiy are fairly conservative and do need a list of politicians to choose from, Oslon said.

He also said "the most sensitive indicator of a politician's popularity is the response to the question 'Whom would you vote for now?' This indicator has not changed: Like before, some 49 per cent of respondents said they are ready to vote for Vladimir Putin."

Before 11 September 2001, some 46 per cent of respondents said they were ready to vote for Putin. Since October 2001, this number has increased to 50-51 per cent, Oslon said.

Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in English 1237 gmt 18 Jun 03

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