Vladimir Putin’s ratings may be lower than he has imagined. FOM, a Russian polling company, posted December rankings of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. They imply that the share of trust Prime Minister and the President has fallen to historically minimal values: trust in Putin, only 44% of respondents, and Medvedev – only 39%. Rumor has it FOM will no longer be publishing these kinds of polls.
Question: Tell us, please, do you trust or not trust the prime minister of the Russian Federation V. Putin?
Putin continued to blame the West for his problems during his annual call-in show that lasted 4.5 hours. He dismissed protests as manipulation from the West. During the protests he was confused and then angered by the white ribbons worn by protesters. Initially he assumed they were anti-AIDS ribbons but then thought some demonstrators had put on “condoms.” He was visibly angry that protesters had mocked up a picture of him wearing a condom on his chest.
Putin went to the Russian airwaves while John McCain went to twitter. Putin stated “Mr. McCain was captured and they kept him not just in prison, but in a pit for several years. Anyone [in his place] would go nuts.” One of McCain’s tweets included: “Dear Vlad, The #ArabSpring is coming to a neighborhood near you.”
Putin’s problems are not just with Russia and the United States, but also with the Czech Republic. “Putine, ke mne! Mazej na misto.” “Come here Putinǃ Go to your placeǃ” Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg pinned on a badge given to him by a girl that refers to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in language usually used to address a dog. Schwarzenberg, known for less-than-diplomatic remarks has presidential aspirations in 2013.
This fall, there were a lot of rumors about Putin’s changes, personal changes that is. More pictures are again circulating the internet of then and now photos of Putin showing what many suggest to be botox.
Thirteen years Putin’s junior, billionaire owner of the NBA New Jersey Nets basketball team Mikhail Prokhorov announced this week that he will enter the Russian presidential race just a week after he declared himself a supporter of Putin. If elected, Prokhorov plans to pardon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, allow free registration of opposition parties and restore popular elections of provincial governors. Putin may also consider pardoning Khodorkovsky now.
On a positive note, Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization was approved. The WTO creates rules and a forum for dispute regarding global commerce. Russia is the last major economy to join the Organization. A positive outcome for Russia, but one that has complications for Russia and the United States due to the Jackson-Vanik amendment, a US federal law passed in both houses of Congress linking trade relations with countries with non-market economies, such as Communist-bloc countries, that restrict freedom of emigration and other human rights.