Fewer Russians believe Medvedev holds real power - poll

MOSCOW Sat Feb 28, 2009 10:42pm IST

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev speaks during an interview to a Russian TV channel in Moscow in this February 12, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Dmitry Astakhov

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev speaks during an interview to a Russian TV channel in Moscow in this February 12, 2009 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Dmitry Astakhov

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Fewer Russians believe President Dmitry Medvedev, rather than Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, runs the country than a year ago when he was elected, a poll showed on Saturday.

The poll by the independent Levada Centre showed that 12 percent of Russians thought Medvedev held real power while 34 percent believed Putin did.

One year ago, on the eve of Medvedev's expected election victory, 23 percent believed the incoming Kremlin chief would wield real power while 20 percent thought Putin would keep it.

The remainder of those polled on both occasions believed power would be shared between the two men.

Medvedev, a former deputy prime minister and chairman of gas giant Gazprom, was elected President on March 2, 2008. He appointed his predecessor Putin, by then also a leader of the United Russia party, his prime minister.

The two men showed no signs of disagreement over major issues such as the global financial crisis or the war in Georgia over a breakaway province but analysts are closely watching the functioning of what has been dubbed as "tandemocracy".

Earlier this month Medvedev said officials were working too slowly to ease the economic crisis in what appeared to be a first public reprimand of Putin.

An earlier Levada poll showed Vladimir Putin has retained high approval ratings despite an economic crisis that has put hundreds of thousands out of work, although fewer trusted him.

Eighty-three percent of Russians said they approved of Putin's leadership in that poll. But in the new data on Saturday only 48 percent chose Putin when asked to name five or six politicians they most trusted, compared with 62 percent a year ago. Only 36 percent named Medvedev, down from 39 percent a year earlier.

Levada's latest poll was conducted between February 20 and 23 on a sample size of 1,600 people across Russia. It has a margin of error of no more than 3.4 percent.

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