Putin

AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

An opposition activist during a protest on May 31. AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

Vladimir Putin’s popularity ratings are likely to be causing a bit of concern in Russia’s ruling circles, as a March election bump in his approval scores appears to be evaporating – and the president’s rating has fallen back to territory seen early in the last decade.

On Thursday, the Public Opinion Foundation, a respected polling agency that works for the Kremlin, published figures showing the number of Russians answering “Do you trust Vladimir Putin?” with ‘Yes’ stood at 48 per cent at the end of May, down from 55 per cent March when he won re-election with 63 per cent of the vote.  Read more

'Pussy Riot' perform in Red Square on January 20. Denis Sinyakov/Reuters

Late last week, a member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot agreed to chat with the Financial Times on Skype.

Famous for pulling stunts such as performing the song “Putin wet his pants” in the middle of Red Square, and “Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin, Expel Putin!” next to the altar at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the band has recently gone to ground after several members were arrested this month. Two are in jail awaiting trial for alleged “hooligan behaviour” in the cathedral stunt; a third member of the group was arrested on Friday, according to their lawyer.

So who are Pussy Riot? Read more

Esther Bintliff

AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

We’ve all been there. You’re on stage outside, you’ve just secured an impossible victory forgotten to wear a hat, and an icy wind is blowing in your face.

Suddenly you’re blinking away tears.

We’ll never really know what was going on when Russia’s freshly-reinstated president Vladimir Putin appeared to weep during his victory speech on Sunday night. Was it simply a physical reaction to the bitterly cold wind, as his spokesman later claimed? Some well-timed eye-drops? Or a natural emotional response at the end of a long week?

 Read more

Neil Buckley

A Russian Channel One undated television grab shows a man identified as Adam Osmayev, one of the suspected militants alleged to have conspired to kill Russian PM Vladimir Putin. Photo AFP/Getty

If you’re planning to bump off a world leader, then doing so in the middle of an election campaign is a good guarantee of maximum impact. But in Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s case, assassination “plots” seem to crop up so regularly around election time there is reason to be suspicious. Read more

Neil Buckley

A pro-Putin rally. Photo AP

One round or two? For all the protests against Vladimir Putin, that has long been the only real question surrounding Russia’s presidential election, now just 10 days away. Will he get more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first round on March 4, with or without a little “massaging”, or will he be forced into a run-off with another candidate three weeks later? Read more