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Poll: Narrow Majority Of Russians Want Putin To Stay Past 2024

A new poll shows that more than half of Russians want President Vladimir Putin to stay in his current post after the scheduled end of his six-year term in 2024.

The poll, released on June 19 by the independent pollster Levada Center, also found that only 27 percent said they would prefer that Putin left.

Levada director Lev Gudkov said respondents were pragmatic when answering the poll's questions because, he said, "There are no successors."

"The fear of political change makes people look at politicians with watchfulness," Gudkov was quoted as saying by the Vedomosti newspaper. Putin is seen as "a conservative leader, who can preserve the status quo."

The Levada poll, of 1,600 adults nationwide, was taken in late May, roughly two months after Putin won a resounding election victory to serve his fourth term as president.

At present, the constitution bars him from seeking another term in 2024, and many political observers have begun to speculate about whether he will try to change the constitution again, install an anointed successor, or find some other way to remain Russia's preeminent leader.

Opinion poll results released by Levada in December, three months before the presidential election, put support for Putin at 61 percent.

Putin has served as either president or prime minister since 1999, presiding over extended growth in economic prosperity and stability after the tumultuous years that followed the Soviet collapse.

His popularity in recent years also stems from his decision to annex the Ukrainian Black Sea region of Crimea, and his defiance of the West, which imposed economic sanctions in response to the Crimea annexation.

Gudkov called that popularity the "Crimea mobilization."

"The effect of the Crimea mobilization is ending but that was slowed down by the presidential campaign and a new inflation of support," Gudkov was quoted as saying.

Despite his continued popularity, Putin faces major long-term economic and demographic problems, and some political observers have said Russia has entered a period of "stagnation." The government is grappling with how to raise the retirement age to prevent looming fiscal problems in the future.

The Levada poll put the number of Russians who think that "decisive, full-scale changes" were needed at 57 percent, up from 42 percent last August.

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