A new Gallup poll indicates that Norwegians are not fond of the former KGB agent who’s now turned into an aggressive president of Russia. Of all the countries included in a poll measuring the popularity of various world leaders, Putin scored lowest in Norway.
Gallup has long measured the popularity of leaders in the US, China, Russia, Germany and the EU, reported newspaper Aftenposten on Thursday. Now the results have been made public for the first time. The numbers show that Russia’s leader is more unpopular than ever, with only 22 percent of those questioned believing that Putin is doing a good job.
The survey also measured where Putin’s leadership is most misliked, and that’s where Norway comes out on top despite decades of relatively good relations with other former Russian leaders and friendly ties between Norway’s former prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, now the head of NATO, and Putin’s predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev was warmly greeted during a state visit to Norway just four years ago, and cooperated with Norwegian officials on a wide range of issues.
Now, however, fully 89 percent of Norwegians polled don’t like Putin’s leadership. Next on the list were the Netherlands and Finland, where 86 percent of those questioned expressed dissatisfaction with Putin’s leadership.
‘Pendulum has swung’
Geir Flikke, who specializes in Russian issues at the University of Oslo, thinks Norwegians long viewed Russia as a good neighbour. “Russia’s behaviour in 2014 shattered Norwegians’ expectations, and the pendulum swung,” Flikke told Aftenposten.
He also cited Russia’s “considerable military activity in 2014, also tied to Norway and the Baltic” as reasons for Norwegians’ disappointment and loss of respect for the Russian leader. Flikke noted that Sweden and Finland also placed Russia low on their satisfaction scale, “so this suggests Norway is not alone” with its unhappiness.
While Russia sank in the opinion polls, the US has topped satisfaction scales since Barack Obama was elected in 2009. That marked a major change from the years of the Bush Administration, when US President George Bush was also decidedly unpopular in Norway.