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Russian President Vladimir Putin is the most trusted Russian official, according to a leading poll of Russian popular sentiment, despite a deficit of support abroad.
According to a poll conducted by the independent Levada Center, Putin's approval rating rose to 82 percent in July, far above his Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's rating of 55 percent.
Putin has cultivated a strong-man image during his time in office, moving between the presidential and prime ministerial roles several times since 1999. His popularity remains consistently high and has been above 80 percent for the last couple of years, having jumped considerably in March 2014 when Russia controversially annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
Despite Putin's approval ratings remaining high, general approval of the government remains subdued at only 51 percent.
In addition, when asked if Russia was "moving in the right direction or is this course a dead-end" 37 percent of the 1,600 respondents surveyed said Russia was "on the wrong track." Forty-six percent thought it was heading in the right direction and the remaining 17 percent saying it was "difficult to answer."
The Levada Center carries out its nationwide poll every month with the results based on a representative sample of over-18s from 130 sampling points across 45 regions of the Russian Federation.
Despite international condemnation and sanctions imposed on Russia for the annexation – as well as its support for a pro-Russian uprising in east Ukraine – the Kremlin's action was largely welcomed by an increasingly nationalist Russian people. Putin's popularity has also remained high despite a recession largely brought about by Russia's economic isolation following the crisis in Ukraine.
Outside of Russia, however, Putin and Russia's trustworthiness has been sorely hit in recent years and months. Aside from its conflict with Ukraine, its military action in Syria has raised eyebrows at a global level.
Russia is engaged in military action in the country's civil war -- ostensibly in order to support the battle against Islamic State but it is widely believed to have propped up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime in a bid to extend its own influence in the region.
Meanwhile, in terms of "softer power," the country is in hot water following accusations of widespread, state-sponsored doping among its athletics team. The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) called for Russia to be banned from the forthcoming Rio Olympic Games but the International Olympic Committee has said it is up to individual sports federations to impose bans.
So far, 108 Russians banned from next month's Olympics so far, including 67 out of 68 from the athletics team, the BBC reported. Putin hit back on Wednesday, saying the bans were part of a political plot.
"The deliberate campaign targeting our athletes was characterized by so-called double standards and opted for the idea of collective responsibility, which is not compatible with sport, justice, or the basic norms of law," Putin told members of Russia's Olympic team on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
"It is an attempt to apply the rules which unfortunately dominate in geopolitics to the sporting world," he said, blaming "short-sighted political schemers."
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