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    Medvedev, Putin's approval ratings go up after wildfires - polls

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    The Russian president and prime minister's approval ratings have risen in the aftermath of wildfires that ravaged a large part of European Russia this summer, business daily Vedomosti said on Friday.

    The Russian president and prime minister's approval ratings have risen in the aftermath of wildfires that ravaged a large part of European Russia this summer, business daily Vedomosti said on Friday.

    In the last week of August, Dmitry Medvedev's approval rating grew by 2 percent to 69 percent, while Vladimir Putin's rose by 3 percent to 73 percent compared to the start of the month, a poll conducted by the Russia Public Opinion Research Center discovered.

    The survey was held on August 28-29 in 42 Russian regions. A total of 1,600 respondents were interviewed.

    Another poll, by Russia's Public Opinion Fund (FOM), showed a 5-percent increase in Russians' trust in Medvedev, putting the figure at 59 percent. This means the Russian president now enjoys his greatest public support since 2007, the pollster said.

    Confidence in Putin has also grown by 5 percent since early August, reaching 65 percent in the last week of the month, FOM said.

    The poll, also conducted on August 28-29, involved 2,000 people in 44 Russia's regions.

    A Kremlin official said the increase in confidence ratings was seasonal.

    "People have returned from their holidays, the fires have finished - everything is good," he explained.

    FOM President Alexander Oslon said there were many factors that could cause more public support of the president and the prime minister, including the weather, current events, the end of summer, and Russian leaders' public speeches.

    Alexei Grazhdankin, the deputy head of another Russian pollster, the Levada Center, said approval ratings do not reveal changes in public attitude towards authorities. Russians have begun blaming authorities more for the problems that exist in the country, he said.

    For example, in 2008, only 20 percent of respondents blamed Medvedev for Russia's woes, while in 2010 the figure stands at 30 percent. The number of those blaming Putin has risen from 19 to 31 percent since 2007, he said.

    Meanwhile, those blaming the government have fallen by 8 percent since 2008, dropping from 38 to 30 percent in 2010, the expert added.

    MOSCOW, September 3 (RIA Novosti) 

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