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Putin and Medvedev "Have Become Associated" in Public Opinion

Putin and Medvedev "Have Become Associated" in Public Opinion
Delyagin Michael 10.11.2009

According to Levada centre, for one and a half year since March 2006 till October, 2007 the share of the Russians considering that Putin's cult of personality has been created in Russia grew sharply from 10 to 22%. Thus rather considerably - from 21 to 27% - grew the share of people considering that there's no cult for the present but all preconditions are already available. The share of those who consider that there are no signs of Putin's cult of personality decreased for the same time from 57 to 38%.


This tendency makes shock impression, however next two years - since October, 2007 till October, 2009 - it disappeared. Attitude to the assumption of appearance of Putin's cult of personality in Russia practically has not changed in any way. The reason of it is clear: "Medvedev's effect". Appearance of the successor having created at least phantom of political competition objectively preserves possibility of cult of personality of the first (formally - the second) person.

At the same time in October, 2009 opinion of the Russians whose interests Putin and Medvedev express practically coincided - though earlier in their perception there were rather serious distinctions. It is paradoxical that these two figures ceased to be perceived by public opinion as something different at the time when they started seriously and openly compete with each other.

Strictly speaking there's of course the difference.

It consists in the fact that if more than a quarter of the Russians consider Putin as spokesman of interests of "agents of national security", only 15% of people stick to this opinion in relation to Medvedev. On the other hand, 15% of the Russians consider that Putin expresses interests of his nearest environment and a quarter - that Medvedev expresses interests of the nearest environment of Putin. Taking into account essential affinity (at least, in modern public consciousness) of concepts "agents of national security" and "Putin's nearest environment" this distinction doesn't seem to be so considerable.

Hardly less than a quarter of the Russians consider that each of the members of "tandemocracy" expresses interests of "middle class, that is people with Central European level of prosperity".

About fifth part of the Russians thinks about each of them that they express interests of "oligarchs" and the same part - of "simple people". In the last case Putin has advantage in three percentage points before Putin, however this deviation is in the limits of statistical error.

Every sixth Russian considers that Putin and Medvedev express interests of the state bureaucracy, every seventh - heads of the large enterprises ("presidential body"), every tenth - "all without exception", every twelfth - "cultural and scientific elite".

Historical difference is shown by the fact that 9% of the Russians consider Putin as the spokesman of interests of the nearest environment of Yeltsin and only 4% consider Medvedev as such. On the other hand, 7% believe that Putin expresses interests of intelligency as to Medvedev - despite of intensive advertising of corresponding idea only 9% think so.

Objective reasons of "becoming associated" are clear: on the one hand, advertising of both leaders is being carried out if not by one and the same people, then by employees of the same information and propaganda group, inclined to identical stamps and technologies.

On the other hand, the government official displaying one of the state functions perceived as its part against one's will. To keep individuality in public perception, resisting to levelling influence of the state is exclusively difficult - at that the higher is the post occupied by the given person, the more difficult it is. Two leaders of one state start to resemble each other in due course in public consciousness as two erased coins.

From the point of view of probable political rivalry in the frameworks of "tandemocracy" "becoming associated" erasing substantial distinctions between contenders strengthens exclusively high propensity of the Russian society to "choosing with heart", that is on the basis of non-program theses and substantial expectations but mainly on personal sympathies.

In a short-range plan it raises chances of younger, more intelligent and nicer Medvedev. In a mid-range plan there are potential threats for the future winner as public opinion will be dangerously disappointed when it will find out that he differs just  a little (at least, for the public opinion) from the won predecessor.

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