Russia’s President Vladimir Putin speaks with US NBC news network anchor Megyn Kelly at the Kremlin on March 1, 2018 in Moscow. / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Alexei Druzhinin
Vladimir Putin will return to the Kremlin with 69 percent of the vote, according to the last survey by state pollsters before the Russian presidential election on Sunday.
The figure has dipped from highs of 77 percent shortly after Putin announced his candidacy in December, but there is little doubt he will win in a landslide even after a lacklustre campaign.
“There are several reasons why Putin has such a high rating. There are of course his personal qualities. He is the most trusted (candidate),” head of state pollster VTsIOM Valeriy Fyodorov told a press conference on Monday.
Around 90 percent of people who were aware of Putin’s programme said they supported it, Fyodorov said.
Putin has not produced an official programme but he discussed poverty and environmental issues during a state of the nation address this month.
He has refused to take part in televised debates with his seven challengers and his campaign videos have relied solely on archive materials.
Pavel Grudinin, the millionaire Communist Party candidate, is expected to come in second with around seven or eight percent of the vote, according to VTsIOM figures.
Ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky is projected to garner around five percent, while former reality TV show host Ksenia Sobchak will likely take between one and two percent.
The other three candidates are predicted to trail with one percent or less.
Between 63 and 67 percent of eligible voters will take part in the election, VTsIOM said, with turnout becoming a key focus in the absence of suspense over the outcome.
Despite campaign promises when Putin returned to the Kremlin in 2012 after four years as prime minister, his last term has seen a drop in living standards and increasing isolation on the world stage.
But Putin’s approval ratings have remained sky-high, boosted by a slavish domestic media and foreign interventions including the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
He is also widely seen as the man who brought stability after the political and economic chaos of the 1990s, an image he has sought to reinforce.