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Russians Losing Confidence In Putin Over Economy

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (left) with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev: All downhill from here?
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russians are losing confidence in the ability of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's government to revive their struggling economy, a poll by the Levada Center showed.

All three of Russia's main polling agencies have registered a dip in the popularity of Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev in recent months as the economic crisis takes its toll on poll ratings that had remained strong for years.

Twenty-six percent of 1,600 Russian polled in late November said they had confidence that "the current government could in the near future achieve positive changes" in the economy, down from 31 percent in October and 33 percent in September.

Thirty-six percent said they did not have confidence in the government's ability to improve the economy, up from 28 percent in October.

Russia remains mired in a deep economic crisis, with GDP contracting 8.9 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier and unemployment up by more around a third since the start of the economic crisis.

Levada Center deputy director Alexei Grazhdankin said he was not surprised by the fall, saying that confidence ratings typically drop during Russia's long, cold winter.

The government's spokesman declined to comment.