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Putin’s rating of confidence soars over Ukraine

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The share of Russians who trust President Vladimir Putin rose to 81.6% from 67.2% before he sent troops to Ukraine.

According to a poll released on Friday by the VTsIOM state poll, Putin’s rating is very high.

The conflict has driven more than 10 million Ukrainians from their homes, killed or injured thousands, turned cities into ruins and led to widespread Western sanctions that would lower Russia’s living standards.

According to the VTsIOM, 78.9% of respondents in their latest poll said they approved of Putin’s actions, compared to 64.3% in a previous poll before what Russia called its “special military operation.” The share of those who disapprove of his actions fell to 12.9 percent from 24.4 percent.

Ukraine and Western leaders have condemned Russia’s military campaign as unprovoked aggression. The Kremlin says it has had to demilitarize and “denationalize” Ukraine to protect Russian-speakers and prevent a threat from the Western NATO alliance.

The VTsIOM figures were similar to those released on March 30 by the independent Levada Center, in which the share of Russians in favor of Putin’s actions rose to 83% from 71% in February.

In 2014, Levada recorded a comparable surge in Putin’s approval rating when Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine and annexed it, and Russian-speaking separatists backed by Moscow took control of part of Donbass in eastern Ukraine.

Ordinary Russians have little access to independent reporting on their country, as almost all major media outlets that deviate from public policy have been shut down in recent years.

Since February 24, Moscow has further restricted access to foreign media and social networks and has made it a crime to publish reports of armed forces deviating from official statements.

VTsIOM said it polls 1,600 people across Russia every day, and weekly polls are the average response rate for the previous seven days.

The poll, published on Friday, was collected between March 28 and April 4.

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