AUGUST 28 2015 13:13h

Putin's popularity dips to 83 per cent as rising prices hit Russians

Putin approval rates trimmed back to 83 per cent

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President Vladimir Putin's approval rating edged down to 83 per cent as rising prices hit Russians, the Vedomosti newspaper reported Friday, citing the independent Levada Centre pollster.

Putin's approval rating reached an all-time high of 89 per cent three months ago, but the rouble's devaluation is continuing to drive up prices for household items.

Forty-two per cent of Russians consider that prices rose more last month than in any other month in recent memory, another respected pollster, the Public Opinion Foundation, said in a report Thursday. A total of 88 per cent indicated that in general prices are rising.

Putin's rating has remained steadily high since March 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region, but rising prices have taken their toll, Public Opinion Foundation head Alexander Oslon told Vedomosti.

But it appears that Crimea and the ensuing rebellion of pro-Russian separatist groups in eastern Ukraine - as well as the West's sanctions against Russia over the conflict - have only boosted Putin's popularity, which was hovering around 65 per cent in the two years before the crisis, according to the Levada Centre.

A poll by the centre in June revealed that six out of 10 Russians believe that the West's sanctions were an attempt to humiliate and weaken Russia. A mere 5 per cent said the sanctions were actually meant to stop the war in Ukraine.