MOSCOW, September 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's president has gained in popularity, but his predecessor and the current prime minister remains the No. 1 politician in the country, a daily paper said on Monday, citing a recent opinion survey.
A survey conducted by the independent pollster Levada Center showed that the number of respondents who have trust in President Dmitry Medvedev nearly doubled, from 10.9% in May to 20.6% in late August. Figures for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are 27.5% and 28% respectively, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported.
The number of respondents who have no trust whatsoever in both leaders has also grown from 2.2% in May to 5.7% in late August for Putin and from 4.8% to 6.6% for Medvedev, the paper said.
A leading Russian analyst highlighted the strong position of the Medvedev-Putin "tandem."
"Medvedev's rating doubling is nothing extraordinary. The figures are in line with the routine process of becoming a politician," said Olga Kryshtanovskaya, head of a think tank for the study of political elites, told the paper.
"Putin has meanwhile remained No.1 politician in the country, the national leader. The majority of people still consider Medvedev a subordinate figure linked to the current premier. He is therefore still seen as a successor, not as an independent head of state," the expert said.
"Medvedev has not outpaced Putin, although he is clearly becoming a more significant figure," Kryshtanovskaya said, adding that a rise in those unhappy with both leaders was due to the economic crisis.
However, a senior expert with the Moscow Carnegie Center said Medvedev's growing popularity spoke volumes.
"People do not link the current problems, including the financial crisis and terrorist attacks in the Caucasus, to Medvedev," Alexei Malashenko said.
Echoing him, the deputy head of the Levada Center think tank said the higher rating for the president was logical.
"Medvedev was virtually unknown earlier. He has done a lot as leader over the past year. People have been getting a clearer impression of him," Alexei Grazhdankin said.
Medvedev, Putin's hand-picked successor, was inaugurated in May 2008, and the former president became prime minister a day later, with the pair pledging to run the country in "tandem."
Russia has since witnessed a brief war with ex-Soviet Georgia and a global financial crisis that hit its economy hard, and a wave of militant attacks on troops, police and authorities in the country's North Caucasus provinces.