WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As Dmitry Medvedev begins his term as Russia's new president on Wednesday with his predecessor Vladimir Putin at his side as prime minister, Gallup Poll data reveal the country's leadership has a large hill to climb if it hopes to improve its existing image in many places around the globe.
Russia's leadership is least popular among respondents from the European Union, the Americas, and the Middle East/North Africa.
Among European Union members, a median of only 15% say they approve of the job performance of Russia's leaders, while a median of 43% disapprove and a median of about a third (35%) say they have do not an opinion. Approval in this region ranges from 45% in Cyprus to only 6% in France.
Within Europe, Russia's leadership is better regarded in the former socialist countries of Southeast Europe, where a median of 42% approve. Gallup finds the strongest support in this region in Serbia, where 63% of residents approve of Russia's leadership. Conversely, Gallup finds the lowest support in Kosovo, where only 17% of residents share this view. This is not surprising because Russia has traditionally opposed Kosovo's independence.
In the Americas, a median of only 18% says they approve of the job performance of the leadership of Russia. However, a median of 56% do not have an opinion. In six Latin American countries, more than 75% of respondents did not share an opinion on Russia's leadership.
In the Middle East/North Africa, a median of 29% approves of the leadership of Russia and 49% disapproves, although there is great disparity within the region in approval ratings.
Almost half of Lebanese respondents (48%) approve of the job performance of Russia's leadership, the highest support in the region, while only 8% of Jordanians approve of Russia's leaders.
In Iran, a country with comparatively strong ties to Russia, the citizens appear divided. Nearly 4 in 10 respondents (37%) say they approve of the job performance of Russia's leaders, slightly less than a third disapprove (31%), and about a third (32%) don't have an opinion.
Gallup finds the strongest regional support for Russia's leadership among the 11 former Soviet republics making up the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Here a median of 58% (excluding Russians) say they approve of the job performance of Russia's leadership. In most CIS countries, at least half of respondents say they approve of Russia's leadership; the exceptions are Armenia, where just 3 in 10 respondents share this view, and Georgia, where slightly more than 1 in 5 (22%) agree. Many in these former Soviet nations have seen a decline in their standard of living since the fall of the Soviet Union and may look more favorably on Russia as a symbol of better days past.
Results are based on face-to-face and telephone interviews with approximately 1,000 adults throughout 2006 and 2007, aged 15 and older, in 138 countries. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.