July 6, 2022 Special Dispatch No. 10063

Russian Polls Show Russians, Too, Suffer From Ukraine Fatigue

July 6, 2022
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 10063

It is important to bear in mind that the Kremlin friendly VTsIOM (The Russian Public Opinion Research Center] and FOM (The Public Opinion Research Center) together with the Levada Center that is fighting for its very existence after being designated a foreign agent do not conduct their surveys without constraints. However, the three polling agencies have recently concurred that Russians are beginning to tune out of coverage of the "Special Operation" in Ukraine. As the operation has been accorded by government spokespersons existential importance approaching that of the Second World War, this downturn in public interest is illuminating. This trend has been accompanied by a slight dip in the robust ratings for President Vladimir Putin and the ruling United Russia Party. The beneficiary of this trend has been Communist Party of the Russian Federation, that has supplemented its position of unquestioned backing for the war, with calls for a more leftist tilt in domestic policy and more aggressive prosecution of the war.

These trends are discussed in an analysis by Nyezavisamaya Gazeta that follows below:[1]

VTsIOM logo (Source:

"Both pro-government sociologists like VTsIOM [Russian Public Opinion Research Center] and FOM [Public Opinion Foundation], as well as the foreign agent, the Levada Center, demonstrated the correlation between the support level for the authorities and the poll respondents' focus level on news about the special operation. The continuing decline of attention to the Ukrainian crisis facilitated an erosion of the previous trend towards strengthening the ratings of the President and the UR [United Russia] party. The identified weariness with the high degree of state propaganda that tries to keep the special operation in the public focus, seems to hint at a possible imminent transformation of this political engine into superfluous ballast.

"For instance, FOM demonstrated that only 34% of respondents now perceive [the news] about the special operation to be the week's highlight, although a week earlier such respondents constituted 38%, and a little over a month ago there were 50% of them. Meanwhile, the average citizen, i.e. the mass audience of state propaganda, is already distracted from the protection of the people of Donbas by such incidents as: the death of once popular artists; the discussion on the Bologna System [of educational standards], and other ‘breaking news.’ However, the level of information coverage for the special operation remains high, which means that society is simply growing tired of it.

"Against this background, the ratings of the state institutions most involved in the Ukrainian crisis, namely that of the president and UR came under pressure. The very same FOM too revealed that the assessment of Vladimir Putin’s work has decreased by 1%, while confidence in him has fallen by 2%. Naturally, the indicators are still high: 80% and 78% respectively. However, dynamics of the indicators are always more important than some absolute values, and at this point in time, they do not demonstrate a positive trend. For its part, the VTsIOM polling agency argued that population maintained a confidence level of 81% in Putin, but estimated that the approval level for his activities decreased by slightly more than half a percentage point to 78%.

"The same can be said about the ruling party, whose conditional electoral rating, according to FOM, fell by 2%, although the CPRF [Communist Party of the Russian Federation] acquired the same amount of percentage points over the week reaching 11%. By the way, VTsIOM, which only admitted a 0.6% drop in the UR's rating [in its poll] (reaching 41%), also improved its rating for the left-wing party to the same level as that of FOM. Only the Levada Center left the Communist party [at the previous level of] 11%, but it thereby supported the evaluation of the pro-government sociologists. By the way, it’s precisely this foreign agent [Levada Center] that has a detailed analysis of the information situation, published at the end of June. In short, there seems to be an increase in discontent among media consumers, and it seems to be recorded among both the pacifist and the turbo-patriotic audience.

"It should be noted that the Communists have recently become a political force, which demands from the Kremlin to show some sort of special-operation-related changes within the country, as well as convincing Russian victories or, at the very least, obvious Ukrainian defeats. Neither of these things can obviously be achieved via state propaganda: special operations seemingly exist as a separate entity from domestic socio-economic policy, whereas military maps reflecting any changes in the situation are not quite understandable to a wide range of users, and small-scale ones don’t look spectacular in this context.

"Tellingly, the government's and the prime minister's ratings maintained their strength, which is, obviously, associated with the fact that these state institutions are not deeply involved in the special operation. Specific indicators vary from one sociological institution to another, but this is the general trend. And this sort of data is yet another confirmation of a new turn. It turns out that for 4 months the special operation has been working like an engine on behalf of the authorities' political ratings, and now it may turn into superfluous deadweight, reducing any lift factor [in the ratings]."



[1], July 3, 2022.

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