Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has seen the second-biggest drop in his two decades in power as anger grows over his call-up of reservists to shore up his shrinking ranks in Ukraine, according to results from the poll released on Wednesday.
According to the independent Levada Center polling agency, 77% of Russians surveyed this month said they approve of Putin’s actions as president.
It marks a six-point drop from 83%, which has been almost unchanged in the six months since Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
It’s also the biggest drop in Putin’s approval rating since 2018, when he raised the retirement age for Russian workers and sparked nationwide protests.
This week, thousands took to the streets in remote regions of Russia to protest Putin’s mobilization of at least 300,000 reservists. Hundreds were arrested in the first days of demonstrations against conscription.
An estimated 200,000 more have fled Russia in the week since the recruitment drive began, criticized by both critics and Putin allies for its indiscriminate nature.
The Levada poll recorded minor declines in approval for Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, his cabinet and the Russian parliament.
Six out of ten Russians said their country is headed in the right direction, up from two-thirds in August. Another 27% said it was going in the wrong direction, up 3% from the previous month.
Levada, which authorities have declared a “foreign agent” in Russia, surveyed 1,600 people in 137 Russian towns and cities from September 22 to 28.